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Baby’s Han-Bok in the raw material market.

Last Saturday we went to DongDaeMun. I thought we would just stay in the library that day while going to the library by bus. I couldn’t ride my bike that day too because I was still worried about the frozen snows on the roads. However when I arrived in the library, Brent told me a terrible news -he told us that we were going to DongDaeMun! How could he doesn’t tell us a word about going to DongDaeMun before although he had promised us to let us know about where we would go the new class if we have any schedule to go out for our observation?! I always wanted to take my camera with me and take pictures of our observation, but he nearly never tells us about our observation…T.T. Sadly, we went to the subway station and started our way to DongDaeMun. DongDaeMun was on line number 1, as same as Wolgye station where we started, so we could arrive at DongDaeMun very quick.

DongDaeMun is another word for HeungInJiMun, which was the east gate of past Seoul, our capital of Joseon Dynasty. DongDaeMun is nowadays one of the biggest shopping destinations in Seoul, and also a popular tourist attraction which every foreigner must visit. Starting from the plaza, there are 30 thousands numerous shops formed on the right and left side of Cheonggye stream for about 1.3km. It still keeps the traditional wholesale markets, and also many restaurants with history and tradition are hiding here and there. Big shopping malls like DooTa and Migliore is loved by teenagers and twenties, and has lots of events like dance performance, b-boying, inviting singers at the outdoor stage. It is very famous as the course for night tours to the foreigners to look in the markets full of Korea’s own feelings of Korea and to get fresh impetus.

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One of the fabrics for curtains at the underground shopping area

As soon as we went out of the subway, DongDaeMun underground shopping area(동대문 지하상가) appeared in our sight. It had many kinds of things like bags, clothes, interiors, shoes and also some raw materials. It was very crowded and we soon passed through the shopping area. After walked a while, we went into a strange building called ‘DongDaeMun General Market(동대문 종합 시장)’. It was very crowded with all kinds of shops and the paths were so narrow and it nearly looked like a maze. They sold lots of raw materials, especially fabrics. There were fabrics for clothes, carpet, pillow, curtain, bedclothes, and Han-Bok. The fabrics for Han-Bok (Korean traditional cloth) were very beautiful and the fabrics for carpets and bedclothes looked so soft. Other materials were also very pretty so I wanted to get the parts of lots of other materials there. They sell those materials in small lots, but they also sell them in large quantities for clothing companies or others. The most raw materials were not that expensive in the raw material market, so the buyers would not feel burden for buying their lots of raw materials though they have to buy a lot because they need them to make what they are planning to make.

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The raw materials at DongDaeMun General Market(동대문 종합 시장)

Next, we went to a bigger market called ‘Pyoung-Hwa Clothing Market(평화 시장)’, which was right across the raw materials market. It was a market for finished products made with raw materials from the market like which we had already passed. The paths were a bit wider than the paths from the raw material market, but it was still narrow and it had more people. Thanks to that, we had to walk in lines with Brent’s guide. He walked quickly without any hesitation and looked like that DongDaeMun is his hometown. There were various kinds of clothes in lots of types and styles. There were styles which kids prefer, styles for young adults, teenagers, but I could find the styles for senior citizens the most common around the market. When we go there for shopping, as we get a wide choice of selection to buy, we need to consider carefully buying the one we want, what we need. Those markets usually sells their goods for large amounts to the companies, but also sells them in small amounts like one or two in much cheaper price compared to other general shops. Peoples go there to buy things in cheaper price although they have to walk a lot and pay attention to the things they pass while walking to find what they want to buy.

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Pyoung-Hwa Clothing Market. Pyung-Hwa means ‘peace’ in Korean.

Finally, we went out of the Pyoung-Hwa clothing market and went into the big department store called ‘DooTa’. They sell their stuffs with best qualities, made with raw materials like what we saw in the general market, and consulting, including the clothes from the smaller markets like Pyoung-Hwa clothing market. After our long walk through those narrow paths and complex shops with lots of people, we were quite tired and exhausted. However when we pushed the door of the department store, I was so happy and glad because I could see clean wide paths and neat shops! Inside of the department store was well organized and the interior facilities were neat and clean, so it was very pleasant to look around and buy things. While walking around the department store and looking around the fancy clothes hanged on mannequins, we(maybe except the boys, haha) were all excited and glad and tiredness vanished in the blink of an eye. The prices of the goods in the department stores are expensive, but the those goods, for example clothes, bags, shoes, are the ones of latest fashion and are very good and fashionable. Also the department store we went was duty free, and we could see lots of foreigners looking around the department store and shopping, a lot.

The observation in DongDaeMun was very interesting because we could directly see the process of the circulation of the clothes looking the raw materials’ market, wholesale market (the Pyoung-Hwa clothing market) and finally the department store. Although Brent told us that this is just a part of the complicated economy, it was a helpful time to understand a part of economy in our life. Like this, DongDaeMun has developed as the shopping Mecca in Seoul, and has also developed as the famous tourist attraction for foreigners visiting Korea each year. Few years before, I was attracted in making dolls by myself and had planned to go DongDaeMun to buy some fabrics I needed. After this observation, thought I was so lucky that I gave up going to DongDaeMun thanks to my laziness, because DongDaeMun would be so large and complex to me on that age to find what I want. However, I’m old enough to walk around other places, so when I get to buy some materials to make something or when I want to buy something which I can’t find near my home, I would go to DongDaeMun and get what I need. Why don’t you try going to DongDaeMun one day?

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