Gwangjang Market part 2: The not so good

We enjoyed our first experience at Gwangjang Market so much that we returned the next day for a quick bite before the Lotus Lantern Parade. Here’s where I challenge the idea of the “cheap” street food this market is known for.

We sat at a different food stall this time and ordered a meal similar to the day before with a few additions. Immediately, the ajumma was working to up-sell everything on the food counter.

Here’s the internal dialogue, mixed with the broken Korean we actually used in addition to the standard hand gestures:

No thanks, not that. Tteokbokki hana. Bindeatteok hana. Japchae noodles…. OK. Anneyo, not interested in unidentifiable pork pieces. Anneyo, don’t want sundae blood sausage. Anneyo, we don’t want anything else. You’ve got kimchi back there… we’ll take some of that. Oh, thanks for setting the 2 small bowls of soup in front of us. Just like everywhere else, I assume they are complimentary. Neh. Mashisoyo.

The food was great, we were full, it was time to grab a street side chair for the parade, so we asked how much we owed. What?! That can’t be possible. When we disputed the charges she blew us off. Not feeling OK about being dismissed, we regained her attention, and she walked us through the charges in a very condescending manner.

Again, internal dialogue along side the broken Korean and hand gestures that we used in person:

OK, the tteokbokki was that much yesterday. OK, so was the bindeatteok. Anneyo, we did not drink any cola lady. No way. No cola! You want to charge us what for japchae noodles? You’ve got to be kidding me. And the seaweed soup we didn’t order, that you placed in front of us, that we didn’t finish, that is always complimentary when set on your table everywhere else …. costs how much? This isn’t happening. What do I look like? If I was an old woman I’d punch you back.

Basically, we got jacked because we let our guard down.

First mistake… we were too comfortable. Despite the constant staring directed towards you at all times, it’s easy to forget that you are in fact a tourist in this country as Korea starts to feel like home. That, and you’d like to think that people aren’t out to screw you over. But no matter how comfortable you become with your surroundings, the reality is you’re not from here, you don’t look like you’re from here, and in certain circumstances you will become a target.

Second mistake… always ask how much. Olma eyo should be the first thing out of your mouth when shopping on the street.

Determined not to let this experience ruin our day, we moved on to enjoying the Lotus Lantern Parade. And when we were finished watching Buddhists and fire breathing dragons, we cut back through the market on our way to Euljiro 3-ga station on the orange line to avoid the crowded madness on the streets. It was here that we saw the musician that I read about in the Korea Times. Baek Yeon-hwa is over 80 years old and apparently a permanent fixture at the market. He had drawn a crowd of spectators clapping and singing while enjoying his saxophone. I’m a sucker for some good sax, so we stopped long enough to snap a few pics and dig on the performance.

I’m going back to Gwangjang Market for sure and I recommend a visit to any foreigner. Just be sure to have your whits about you. Don’t get taken advantage of and you’ll enjoy the experience a lot more.

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~ by ripcitytoseoul on May 27, 2010.

One Response to “Gwangjang Market part 2: The not so good”

  1. […] More on that in Gwangjang Market part 2: The not so good. […]

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