If you love Korean food, you don’t want to miss eating your way through Gwangjang Market in Seoul.

It’s one of the ultimate places to experience traditional Korean street food and culture all under one delicious roof.

In this Gwangjang Market blog post I’m going to share with you all about one of the most mouthwatering Korean food experiences to have in Seoul.

Gwangjang Market in Seoul
Korean street food at Gwangjang Market

Gwangjang Market

First established in 1905, Gwangjang Market is known to be the oldest continually functioning market in all of South Korea (source).

And it’s one of those places that has not only withstood the test of time, but it’s passed through many generations, and I would imagine that it looks virtually the same as it did fifty years ago.

things to do in Seoul
Seoul’s oldest market

Although Gwangjang Market has been written about in everywhere from Lonely Planet to Munchies, what I also like so much about it is that the market still remains authentic and retains its Korean cultural heritage, style, and charm.

This is a place in Seoul where you’ll find both tourists and Koreans, all enjoying the same delicious food.

Korean food guide
Seasonal produce at Gwangjang Market

There are a couple sections of the market, and when you’re walking around you’ll come across stalls selling clothes, fresh vegetables, and some random other market goods.

But the main section of the market is dedicated to prepared food, and it’s set up sort of like an indoor street food court, kind of like a food warehouse. It’s an amazing atmosphere.

Also, check out my Seoul Travel Guide here.

Korean street food in Seoul
Gwangjang Market is a street food paradise

Korean Street Food

Gwangjang Market is an overwhelming place of gastronomic beauty, there are mounds of food and hungry people eating in every direction.

When it comes to the Korean street food available at the market, after walking around for a little while, you’ll notice there are a few different types of stalls that sell a similar assortment of dishes.

Eventually everything will look so good, and you’ll be faced with the paradox of choice (there are just too many good things to choose from), and so you’ll just have to sit down at the nearest stall and start eating.

soondae sausage
Soondae, Korean blood sausage

Soondae (Sundae) – blood sausage

I’ll admit, they may be a little scary in appearance (and description of what they contain), but don’t let that stop you from ordering a plate of Korean soondae, blood sausage.

The Korean version of blood sausage is remarkably juicy and moist, partly because it contains a mixture of blood and a good amount of sticky and soft mung bean noodles or sticky rice.

Korean food
Despite its looks, it’s really good.

When you order a plate of soondae, one of the big long sausages will be taken off the eternal steamer, and sliced into pieces, and arranged onto a plate.

It’s also typically served with a few slices of lung on the top as well, and additionally with some perilla leaves and chili salt to garnish.

Gwangjang Market
Find this Aunty: She will feed you!

On my most recent trip to Seoul, my wife and I sat down at a stall owned by a very kind lady, and she sliced up the soondae, wrapped it in a perilla leaf, and to my surprise, she fed me!

It was an amazing Korean food experience, being fed at Gwangjang Market.

What I love so much about Korean soondae is the spongy texture and the combination of the blood sausage with all the fresh leaves and herbs to go with it.

Mayak gimbap
Mayak gimbap, also known as narcotic rice rolls

Mayak gimbap – rice rolls

Gimbap is among the essential list of Korean foods to eat, rice and a few pickled veggies packed into seaweed, rolled up and sliced into bite sized pieces.

Gwangjang Market is famous throughout Korea for vendors that sell Mayak Gimbap, which literally translate to narcotic rice rolls (seriously), and if you could only choose one thing to eat when you’re there, this is what I would recommend.

The reason they are called narcotic rice rolls is not because they contain any sort of narcotics (at least that I know of), but rather because they have extreme addictive properties.

Korean food
They are that addictive!

At the market you’ll find stacks of the mini rice rolls piled high. Most of them contain a similar mixture of vegetables on the inside, wrapped up into mini sausage sized little rolls.

The part of the mayak gimbap that really makes them addictive, at least in my opinion, is the great amount of sesame seeds and sesame oil that’s brushed onto each rice roll, giving them a sensational, addictive taste that’s literally irresistible.

I’m going to let you decide how addictive they are… but let me just tell you, they aren’t joking when they compare them to narcotics.

Tteokbokki
Tteokbokki

Tteokbokki – rice rolls

Another one of the most common Korean street foods, and something you’ll find in abundance at the market is tteokbokki.

These sticky dense rice rolls are stewed in a thick red chili sauce and they are especially common for the younger generation of Koreans who seem to eat them at every chance.

Served hot and fresh, right out of the simmering pan, tteokbokki makes a pretty good snack, and it’s pretty hearty and filling as well. The same stalls that sell gimbap and soondae will typically also offer tteokbokki.

Gwangjang Market blog
You can also eat plenty of fresh seafood

Fresh seafood

There’s a lane within Gwangjang Market where you can get all sorts of fresh seafood including hwareo hoe, Korean sliced raw fish similar to sashimi, an assortment of exquisitely fresh and raw seafood, and the famous live octopus.

I haven’t yet had a chance to try the seafood at the market, but it’s an option that you have. Prices are expensive but worth it (I’ll be sharing about my seafood and raw octopus eating experience soon).

Gwangjang Market food in Seoul
Bindaetteok, a mung bean pancake, is delicious at Gwangjang Market

Bindaetteok – mung bean pancake

Among all the delicious Korean food available, Gwangjang Market is particularly famous throughout Seoul for the mung bean pancakes known as bindaetteok.

There are some extremely famous stalls in the market, some good info here, but if you just walk around you’ll see dozens of stalls in the center of the market selling this attractive shallow oil fried delicacy.

I chose at random the first lady that smiled at me and my wife, and we were soon seated on a bench as she sliced up the pancake with a pair of scissors and dropped it on our bar counter table along with a side of sauce and a bowl of kimchi.

Seoul street food
Sorry about the leaning photo, I was so happy from the food!

The bindaetteok was extra crispy on the outside and soft like mashed potatoes on the inside. The soy vinegar onion side sauce elevated each bite of mung bean pancake into an even further dimensions of deliciousness.

Eating bindaetteok is pretty greasy, but it’s well worth trying when you’re at Gwangjang market.

Dazed by the wonderful flavors, the overwhelming bounty of Korean street food, and the luscious culinary fumes, I stumbled out of the Gwangjang Market patting my stomach with extreme satisfaction.

Conclusion

I’ve visited Seoul a couple of times, and spending time at Gwangjang Market is a place that never gets old.

From the abundance of traditional Korean street foods to sample, to the action and energy of all the people that scurry through the narrow food packed lanes, it’s a truly fantastic place to discover in Seoul.

There are lots of things to do when you’re in Seoul, but if you’re a food lover Gwangjang Market should be at the top of your list.

When you go, make sure you stop at multiple food stalls, and whatever you see that looks delicious, try it.

Gwangjang Market

Opening hours: Most of the market opening hours are from 8:30 am – 6 pm daily, but some restaurants open longer and some places are closed on Sunday. Overall, it’s a great day market on any day of the week.
Address: 88 Changgyeonggung-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
How to get there: It’s easy to get to the market by taking the Metro to Jongno-5 station and take either Exit 9 or 8 which will lead you right to the entrance of the market.
Prices: Seoul is not the cheapest city, even when it comes to eating street food you’ll pay $2 – $5 per plate. You could easily spend around $10 – $20 per person eating in this market.



42 comments. I'd love to hear from you!

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  • KD

    4 months ago

    This makes me hungry!!! I’m going to Seoul this Oct, and would love to try out the Sundae. Any suggestions where to get it in Myeongdong or Hongdae? Thanks a lot!:)

  • Maureen Duque

    8 months ago

    hi Mark!My family will be travelling to Seoul in Spring and we are very excited especially the kids..My 7yr old son Matthew loves to watch all your travel blogs and even imitate how your facial reaction is when you started biting delicious foods,oh my God my son is your number fan!!Anyways,thank you for making all your travel videos because we are really enjoying it.More power to you Mark and family!

  • Tim

    10 months ago

    I just love seafood and Gwangjang Market definitely is enticing. Your blog is a great read. Thanks for sharing such interesting stuff.

    • Mark Wiens

      10 months ago

      Hey Tim, great to hear that. Gwangjang Market is such a food paradise!

  • Duyducivan

    11 months ago

    Just visited this market last month, the first impression is the market with clean environment, filled with lots of food stalls, I got to taste some street food such as Dokbokki, bibimbap, savoury pancakes. Really good experience

  • may

    12 months ago

    blood sausage I gonna to try after ur introduction here…tks

  • Dramamom

    1 year ago

    Just went last night. It was awesome!

  • Syaf

    1 year ago

    I just had Korean food (in my city of Kuala Lumpur), though it may not be as authentic as the ones in Seoul, I really like their BBQ dishes. Thanks for this post – I should make a visit to this country then! 🙂

    • Mark Wiens

      11 months ago

      Hey Syaf, you’re welcome, thank you for reading. Glad you enjoy Korean BBQ!

  • shalini srivastava

    1 year ago

    amazing blog and pictures. I love korean food..

  • 纽约摄影师

    1 year ago

    So cool. although there is korean town in New York. but nothing can compare this. Need to go there to see myself.

  • Kee Aun

    1 year ago

    I’m wondering why she fed you. Was it just you or was it something she did to all customers?

    • Mark Wiens

      11 months ago

      Hey Kee, I have no idea, but I think she might do it to many of her customers.

  • bryan

    1 year ago

    Yeah, Seoul is not the cheapest city; however, the prices of foods at Gwangjang Market are so reasonable.
    That’s why Gwangjang Market is my one of the favorite place when I lived in Seoul !

    • Mark Wiens

      11 months ago

      Great to hear that Bryan, this is definitely a special place for food lovers in Seoul.

  • Nui Acain

    1 year ago

    Excellent !!! Thank you.

  • Nui Acain

    1 year ago

    Hi M ark, my daughter loves Korean foods so much. I have a few Korean friends which I learn how to cook Korean foods from them. I don’t know about blood sausage though. Thank you

    • Mark Wiens

      1 year ago

      Hi Nui, great to hear your daughter loves Korean food!

  • farekim

    1 year ago

    This is a four way market that meets in the middle intersection. It’s easy to get tempted by the food stalls at the edge but it seemed that the most crowded and popular ones were in the middle. The mung bean pancake stall right in the centre seemed the most popular with queue of locals ten deep.

  • Ari Vanuaranu

    1 year ago

    My best friend is dragging me along to Seoul this coming October despite my onslaught of protests. I just don’t have any idea in what to do there. But now thanks to you I have somethinhlg to look forward to. Thanks, Mark!

    • Mark Wiens

      1 year ago

      Hey Ari, that’s awesome to hear, hope you and your friend have an amazing time in Seoul. You’re going to enjoy it!

  • Giriraj

    1 year ago

    Those pics looks crispier than pig skin!!
    Keep up this amazing travel nirvana for us, Mark..

    Do visit “Khau Gali” located at “Bhindi Bazaar” when you visit Mumbai.

  • Dadaist

    5 years ago

    Hello,

    Such an amazing pictures!!!! I definitely have to travel around asia, the food looks great. Currently im living in Bucarest, here you can check one of the biggest markets http://dadaistagastronomico.blogspot.ro/2012/07/mercado-de-obor-bucarest.html. Hugs!!!

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Thank you Dadaist, and the market in Bucarest looks great to!

  • Vicky

    5 years ago

    Food looks delicious, Will have to add this to the list of things to do in Seoul! Think I’ll pass on the blood sausage though – I tried it for the first time when I was studying abroad in Madrid and while after the first bite I seemed to like it ok, after a few more bites the taste became too overwhelming for me.

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Cool Vicky, definitely take some time to browse and eat through Gwangjang Market and let me know how you enjoy it!

  • Audrey | That Backpacker

    5 years ago

    Sam and I stumbled upon this market over the weekend and I recognized it from one of your videos! 😀 I didn’t actually sit down to sample the food, but I definitely plan on going back to do so – just not the blood sausage…

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Thank you Audrey! Due to the food, I think it was probably one of the greatest places I visited when I was in Seoul… and I know that if you and Sam go, you’ll know how to detect the food a lot better than I did!

  • Caanan @ No Vacation Required

    5 years ago

    I don’t know about the blood sausage…

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Blood sausage definitely doesn’t sound so good from any description of how it’s made… but it can be quite tasty!

  • Naomi

    5 years ago

    Did you see the General? He’s an older guy who walks around the market in vintage military regalia and plays the saxophone. Pretty chill character!!

  • sully86

    5 years ago

    mark: *two thumbs up* I need to raid my fridge now..