I like visiting traditional markets. Since I was a little kid, my mom used to take me to market. Everything in market made me wonder. Still I love to go to markets so I always plans to visit traditional markets or big marts in that country when I go travel abroad. You can get a great perspective of a day in life of locals in the market.
Tongin Market is 76 years old traditional market near Gyeongbokgung Palace. It started in 1941 for Japanese resident during the Japanese Colonial Rule. It has been a small market mainly used by locals who lived nearby. Nowadays, it becomes a famous market by the theme of ‘Dosirak café’, which is a cafeteria you have your lunchbox. It is located in middle of the market.
You buy an empty tray and 10 old style coins, which called yeopjeon, in front of the café. One coin values for 500 won and then exchange the coins for different kind dishes. I think it is a nice way to try Korean food for beginner or a picky eater.
While walking through alley of market, you build up your lunch box yourself. Try various tasty side dishes only for 500-2000 won. With 10 coins, I feel like I’m a rich. In Dosirak café, there are enough seat for you on second or third floor. You can get rice and soup there for 2 coins each. Chopsticks and water are provided on second floor for free.
It was the first experience of Tongin Market for me. I was eagerly look forward to having a big lunch box. As you can see, mine has an empty space. I got a cold Sweet Rice Drink instead. And it was great choice! I couldn’t help buying a cold drink because of hot weather.
I recommend you consider this place as a great option for lunch after visiting Gyeongbokgung Palace. Just Coming here for lunch is definitely worth a visit, too!
Address : Tongin-dong 10-3, Jongro-gu, Seoul, Korea (0303618, Jahamun-ro 15-gil)
Operating Hours : 11:00~17:00 (last coins exchange until 16:00)
* Closed on Mondays and third Sunday.
Gyeongbok Palace Station – Seoul Subway Line 3, Exit 2
(10 minute walk away from the station.)