Expat in Korea

A little Christmas shopping, Korea-style

Today I did some holiday shopping, and stopped at one of my favorite places in the city, Seomun Market.

I wrote about the charms of this traditional market a few weeks ago, and in the few weeks since I was there, the Christmas spirit has descended upon the place, and adorned random corners with tinsel, wreaths, and “Merry Christmas” greetings that flash in colored LED lights and trumpet from sound-systems. The pace of the crowd is commensurate with the frantic last-minute demands of the holiday season.

I did have a shopping list and was fortunate to get just about everything I wanted, but as is usually the case when I’m at Seomun, I am easily distracted and see ten more things I want. My shopping list consisted of fresh garlic, candied ginger (which I found from a brand-new seller near the entrance), beads, yarn, and gift items for my nieces.

I found some astonishing deals on yarn in a side alley, and filled up a box with wool, acrylic, and blends that will make for some beautiful hats and other accessories. I spent about 1/3 of retail for what I found. Buying yarn in Korea is unpredictable, though – you can’t rely on finding exactly what you need, especially basic worsted yarn in neutral colors and in sufficient quantities. That’s why I order online or wait to buy when I’m in the States.

After I bought the yarn, I stopped for a hoeddeok – a hot fritter sprinkled with cinnamon, sugar, and sunflower seeds. I get one every time I visit Seomun.

Finally, I couldn’t leave Seomun Market without going into the big silk flower shop in the DIY section. This silk flower shop is always jam-packed with every type of artificial posy you can name, but at Christmas, it becomes an over-the-top extravaganza of glitter, LED lights, and all the best of Christmas kitsch.

I bought my tiny tree at this outpost a few years ago, and it’s pretty basic in comparison to many of the grandiose examples that they have on display.

All in all, I had a great day of poking around the market stalls and collecting some secret goodies to ship off to my nieces in California. I’d better hurry to send their package, because Christmas is in only 12 days from now.

I’ll share photos of my tiny tree and Dad’s hand-made ornaments in my next post. Jolly holidays and see you soon!

Giant snowman

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