How To Shop Yongsan Electronics MarketMay 9, 2006 Write an essay on this topic.
The Bottom Line Electronics out the wazoo, but food is a little more difficult, unless you like hot dogs.
When we first arrived in Seoul we were told by an Italian man we met at our homestay to go to Technomart and not Yongsan Electronics Market. Well, it so happened that a friend of ours took us to Yongsan first. And within Yongsan we went to Electroland. Electroland is an experience all in itself.
Large Korean markets are kind of arranged by subject. Instead of going to a mall or plaza and finding a variety of different kinds of merchandise, like you would in America, you are more likely to go to a big market and find all one thing or one type of thing grouped together. Hence, Yongsan Electronics Market. Every electronic gadget known to man, including a few youve never even imagined, is available within a very small area.
If you arrive at Yongsan via subway (which really is the best way to travel in Seoul) you will find yourself in a very large, above ground train station. There is an escalator available up from the platform, but youll have to look for it because its tucked behind a steel support. On the second floor it will appear that you have arrived because there is a big mall there including an Emart with a grocery store in it and a Lotteria (which you should avoid on pain of indigestion.) Walk out of the station doors and turn right. Youre going to see a couple of bootleg vendors, but theyre just the tip of the bootleg iceberg so theres no need to get too excited. At the end of the walkway, youll turn right again and walk through some doors. When you get to the covered walkway on the left plunge in.
The walkway, which we call the habitrail because it makes us feel like hamsters, will take you over the train tracks and dump you out in another mall looking area. Cell phones, laptops, gadgets and doohickeys galore. When you come to a set of stairs, head down one flight. If you head down 2 you will find another group of bootleg dealers. One set of stairs will get you to another habitrail, which is visible to the right at the bottom of the stairs.
Go through that habitrail and you will find at yet another bootleg dealer. Go down 2 flights of stairs and through the covered sidewalk, past a really yummy smelling hot dog dealer.
You have arrived in Yongsan. Across the street you can see dozens of multicolored Eazy-Up tents. Those are all bootleg dealers. Further along the street you can see some store fronts. Those all stock computer parts. If you wanted to build a computer from scratch, you could do it right here and buy all the games you could ever want to play on it. If you venture over there you will find layers of bootlegs, official releases, blank media, computer parts, computer toys, games. You name it. We just bought a disk carrying case that holds 300 disks today and I have my eye on a few things that will make great gifts when I head home. We normally head to that area at the end of out trip, generally because were starving and want to get to the restaurant.
As you walk up the hill you will pass 2 hallways. The first one we refer to as "the Game Ghetto." Games, statuettes of game figures, other fun game related things. If you like games, this will be heaven. If not, keep chugging up the hill. The second hall is "the Cell Phone Ghetto" which you should just avoid unless you really want a Korean cell phone. The sales people can be pretty aggressive, though they generally dont go after Westerners. At the top of the hill take a left and walk down the block. Youll pass an amazing array of electronics. Crazy Christmas lights, lamps, scales that weigh in kilograms, stuff I dont recognize. Theres a lot of stuff I dont recognize. At the corner you will see a large building across the street. That is Electroland.
Inside Electroland there is everything imaginable that can be plugged in. Everything from stoves to electronic dictionaries. Oddly, there are only a few DVD dealers. (Theyre all outside.) You will find a really good one on the corner you are nearest to.
The prices on the electronics arent that great. If you think youre going to get a great deal on a laptop, youll be disappointed. However, if you came to get cheap copies of old movies on DVD, you will be a happy camper. Old movies and the occasional funky find run about $3 or 5 for $10. Of course when youve seen one dealer, youve seen them all. Same goes for bootlegs. They all tend to have the same stuff and it seems to all come from the same source. If one guy tells you its bad quality then all of them are bad.
Food in Yongsan is difficult. We have found one restaurant we like called Sorrento. Its on the 7th floor of Electroland above the movie theatre. They serve Korean style Italian food. What is Korean style Italian food? Well, the red sauce is a little too sweet, the definition of seafood is much looser than in the West, and youre going to get pickles no matter what you order. My husband usually gets spaghetti with red sauce because the sweet sauce doesnt bother him much. I get the carbonara, which I really like. We also split a season salad. That tends to change up a little every time we get it, but usually its iceberg lettuce, olives, corn, peaches, fruit salad, mandarin oranges, kiwi and a little purple cabbage for color. It really is very good. With drinks the whole deal runs about $25.
If you want games or computer components or old movies (or bootlegs) you will enjoy a visit to Yongsan. If you want cheap electronics, you arent going to be happy here. The electronics in Korea cost the same or more than they would in the States. However, its a pretty fabulous spectacle. But watch where youre going because the sidewalks give now meaning to "uneven."
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