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Bujeon Market Town

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Everything Is 1 Dollar Here

The largest market in Busan, and almost definitely the biggest I’ve ever visited anywhere, is in the central neighborhood of Bujeon. Calling it a market town is no mere hyperbole — just the covered portion comprises a full grid of streets and alleys, and you can easily get lost in its chaotic, densely crowded streets.

Bujeon-Market-Town

If Bujeon were closer to our apartment, we’d be there daily. Everything under the sun is sold at the market, from food to household goods and electronics. We saw a woman peddling puppies (presumably as pets), a flea market of vintage clothing, bakeries selling sweets, squiggling octopuses and squids. Pots, pans, aprons, fruits, spices. Everything a Korean kitchen could ever possibly need. Should your kitchen need a cook, I’m sure you could talk one of the thousands of sweet old ladies working there into coming home with you.

And it’s unbelievably cheap. A bag of chili powder which was twice the size of the bag I’d just bought from a supermarket was half the price at Bujeon. For less than a buck, Jürgen and I shared a strange rice-cake which was shaped and served like a corn dog, complete with ketchup and mustard. Then, after being offered samples, I picked up two delicious green-tea doughnuts for about $0.60.

Bujeon has its own subway stop, and is within easy walking distance of Seomyeon, which is basically the apex of downtown Busan. Definitely worth a look.

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June 30, 2012 at 11:34 pm Comments (0)

Jagalchi Fish Market

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The largest fish market in South Korea is found in downtown Busan, next to the busy shopping area of Nampo-dong and adjacent to the Lotte Aqua Mall. That it occupies such a valuable, central location speaks to how important the fish trade has always been to the city.

Cheap Fish

The market is massive and seems to go on forever. Thousands of stands with what must be billions of fish compete with each other for customers, and there’s no doubt who’s in charge: the hardened, crafty women known as the Jagalchi Ajumas. “Ajuma” means “married woman”, and these ladies conduct almost all the business at the market, whether that’s the business of beheading a fish, prying open a clam, or haggling with a customer. Most likely, they could do all of these things simultaneously.

We were amazed during our visit; the Jagalchi Market is like an aquarium, with every sort of fish imaginable and some species I’d never seen before. Among countless others, I saw colorful shrimp the size of trout, blowfish, shark, sea urchins, monkfish, mollusks, and the slightly off-putting penis fish.

Of course, the big difference between this and an aquarium is that these fish are waiting to die. To be ripped apart in the most horrific ways imaginable and then consumed. I saw a group of eels who had been skinned alive, still squiggling around in their pail. There’s enough material here to fuel a thousand gore flicks… just substitute “human” for “octopus”. That’s what was running through my head, as I watched a group of plucky octopuses working together to climb out of their bucket, only to be whacked in the head by their insidious Ajuma keeper. Soon, she would choose one to hack to pieces and then serve as a still-twitching meal. Hollywood, take note.

There are a few different sections of the Jagalchi market. We started in the outdoor zone, with a nice view over the port, and then moved into the Dry Fish area, where dried sardines, kelp and cod are sold in unbelievable volume. The centerpiece of the market, though, is the new Shindonga building, built in 2006. The exterior design features white winged shapes, creating the impression of giant seagulls descending onto the building. Inside are yet more stands and restaurants where you can eat sashimi; similar to the Millak sashimi hall we visited, but on a different scale.

We had a great time in Jagalchi — it’s one of the absolute highlights of Busan.

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June 24, 2012 at 2:32 am Comments (3)