Saturday, March 29, 2014

Photo Blog: Time Warp at the Seoul Folk Flea Market

If you were take a Goodwill thrift store and mix it with equal parts antique shop and estate sale, then throw in a pinch of distinctly Asian flair, the result would be the Seoul Folk Flea MarketSome friends and I stumbled across this amazing market by accident -- we'd set out looking for a completely different market and managed to get completely lost. Luckily, losing our way was the best possible thing to have happened because the market we did find greatly exceeded our expectations.

Though I'm slightly upset that it took me two years to find this market, it's probably also for the best. If I'd known about all the vintage and antique things in that that building holds when I was first decorating my apartment in 2011, it would've been dangerous... That being said, this is definitely a new go-to spot for gifts and souvenirs. 

The flea market was only recently put into an actual building in 2008, with its origins being in the street vendors that used to cluster around that area of the Cheonggyecheon Stream. Now it boasts hundreds of vendors and offers a staggering range of items.

Lucky for us (and you), a respectable amount of effort has been put into making this market organized and tourist-friendly. As we walked around, we noticed that the different areas of the market are color-coded, as you can see in the pictures above, from the signs hanging above the aisles to the tarps that pulled down over the booths. Here's a basic breakdown of the zones: 
  • Yellow = household goods, personal goods, vintage clothes, accessories.
  • Orange = vintage clothes, shoes, bags.
  • Green = antiques, used goods.
  • Red = food court!
  • Indigo = tools, bicycle accessories, repair items.
  • Blue = clothes (sports, men's, military).
  • Purple = leisure, cameras, clothing.

Aside from the obviously ancient antiques that makes the market kind of feel like a museum, looking through most of the booths was like a bizarre time warp through the past 50 years. I say bizarre because of the number of very American (and generally Western) items that were being sold, which I can only assume are leftovers from the Korean War and Korea's subsequent modernization. The entire building is just steeped in nostalgia, making any attempt to shop with purpose nearly impossible due to the overwhelming desire to just carefully look at everything.

Directions and information: 
  • Sinseoldong Station, Exit 10. 
  • Walk straight out of the exit and around the corner on the left. You'll make a left at the Shinhan Bank. From there, look for signs and little lanterns hanging along the streetlights. The market will be on your left! (If you cross Cheonggyecheon Stream, you've gone too far.) 
  • Hours: 10:00am - 7:00pm. Closed on every 2nd and 4th Tuesday. (Note: Many vendors close early, so I would advise going before 5:00pm.) 


  1. My mind is exploding. If there was something like that here... Game over. The end.

  2. I know this place! We went there looking for antique lamp to have it decorated with hanji, Korean paper. We found one, no vendor in vicinity, were told to come back later, only to realise it has been sold already. Tough luck! Flea Market is definitely a place for determinate hunters.

    1. Yeah, I got the impression that this market is the place to go if you're a serious antique collector!

    2. There were some stalls with ancient looking stuff, right enough. By the way, if you ever came across standing lamp, up to 3 feet high, might be worn out or slightly damaged, let us know, please :)

    3. Will do! I'll keep an eye out. :)