Korea Expat BLog

Ghost Market

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Ghost Markets

in the gruesome years following the Korean War, the U.S. Military presence literally fed a large domestic population in the way of products tucked away from PX, so much so that Ration Boxes were exchanged as prized gifts in higher circles . then came the tight Dictators who forbade imports in the name of Patriotism . so the hard years leading up to the 70’s saw Ghost Markets pronounced “DoKKaeBi ShiJang“, operating in concentrated points in the City . in the Capital of Seoul this was South Gate Market “NamDaeMoon ShiJang” and in Busan (Pusan): Canned Food Market “KKangTong ShiJang” (derived from canned food rations that made its way from the U.S. Base). in those days it wasn’t hard to buy a revolver there . in this era one spot became the famous Ghost Market that it actually became the official name of the building whose underground BF level was a maze of open booths selling instant coffee to analog phones of which cognacs were the most prestigious . ofcourse now-and-then news ran stories of those liquor tinted with fake alcohol .. the building still exist today with the stores, but why ?

  • Subway line 4 HuaeHyun Station Exit 5, turn right as you come out and it is the 4th building (all separated by alleys) to the right .

then as the middle class started forming in the 80’s appetite for foreign goods increased as imports loosened . this was also a time when increasing foreign technicians and businessmen stationed in Korea yearned for taste of home . so it was a matter of convenience to buy near foreigners’ housing areas such as HanNamDong (more Europeans) and HanKang Mansion (more Japanese) added to the American residence of Itaewon Hills . where each formed (in the order of size):

  1. HanNam SuperMarket – Subway Line 6 HanKangJin Station Exit 2, take the right alley and walk straight for 3 small blocks until you reach the large road connecting NamSan (South Mountain) Tunnel No.1 and HanNam Bridge . across the road you can see the sign, but have to cross over using the pedestrian over-path on either side afar .
  2. CheongHwa Apartment Market – a once favourite among businessmen stationed in Seoul in the ’80s, because they were living with their family in a foreigner-kind apartment complex above . this tiny store closed shop since, as the market building changed to those adhering more to Japanese tourists . at the end of 2008 a large sauna & bath on the upper floor closed also only leaving the ground-floor Korean restaurant where Japanese tourists are flocked-in on tourist buses .
  3. HanNam Heights Apartment Market – so this would supple for the closed CheongHwa Apartment Market above, located behind the first apartment building . the apartment complex is onto your right /after/ less glamourous HanNam ShiBum Apartment as you climb further up from UN Village .
  4. and another Ghost Market underneath HanKang Mansion SangGa (Market Building).


Foreign Groceries

in the post ’88 Olympics era, the imports have been legal and serving increasing foreigners in South Korea as well as to satisfy returning second-generation Koreans from abroad – thus no more calling them Ghost Markets but with the proud name of shop .

1) smaller stores in the alley across from Hyatt Hotel on NamSan, 2) HanNam Heights Market further up from U.N. Village, 3) more stores adhering to Japanese living in HanKang Mansion and 4) the newly formed French hill “SeoRae Maul” in BangBaeDong, South of the Han River .


influx of Tesco-scale SuperMarts and 7-11-ish convenience stores along with your usual slice of fast-food chains and pizza parlours have wiped around-the-corner : Small-Hole Stores “GuMong GaGae” from Korean cities over the Millennium . SuparMarts run by conglomerates have their On-Line Department delivering same-day in 3~4 timeslots or if you live in remote areas (or smack in the middle of downtown where there is NO room for these large stores): next-day delivery like full-fledged On-Line Shopping Malls . although similar in warehouse-lot sizes, some tend to serve more Western than Korean . in the order of those containing most imports of current Expatriate favourites as of 2008 :
CostCo > HomePlus > eMart > LotteMart > HomeEver (formerly CarreFour) > MegaMart (in Busan region only).

Duty-Free Shops

Lotte Department Store in MyungDong and the one in their JamShil Branch is large, as is Shilla Hotel’s separate building . vast InCheon Airport has an immense DFS but much smaller, selected version in closer Kimpo Airport (serving Japan and China). as elsewhere, Duty-Free Shops are not necessarily a bargain, as on-line stores give more discounts especially on electronic goods . it might be an option if you want Global product support .

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