korea – pt.3

on my second to last night in Seoul went to go check out the infamous Namdaemoon night market. this was quite overwhelming, never seen anything like it before. first of all, this market gets going around 10pm, and starts getting good around 1-2am. i’m going bullet-point for the rest of the descriptions cause there is so much to say about this place.
– this is where most of the clothing in all of Korea comes from. think of the Magic tradeshow, multiply by 10, and have it be open 6 days a week, afterhours nonetheless.
– it’s freaking huge. there’s several buildings the size of small arenas plus hundreds of tent vendors surrounding the buildings. as well as clothing, accessories, and shoes, there’s a lot of food to be eaten.
– the grey market thrives here. don’t get me wrong, the large majority of the business is straight here, but I stumbled onto floors that specialized in grey goods. there seemed to be 3 shades of grey here.
#1 – goods from the backdoor of factories. you’ll find all sorts of legitimate skate gear here (Zoo York was all over), designer labels (Marc Jacobs for the ladies), and even some luxury goods (Paul Smith luggage had me tempted).
#2 – fine bootlegs. these look real, but by examing closely, you’ll discover that they’re fake. I even spotted some bootleg 10 Deep (sorry Scott).
#3 – bad bootlegs. these are the almost comical poor quality knock-offs. the people who make these think that they’re tricking the system by mispelling names (Carvin Klein) or altering logos (Guess exclamation point).
– in terms of technology, this place is pretty archaic (strange considering Seoul is the most wired city in the world), but it runs incredibly smooth. there are no computers, everyone goes around with notepads, and what’s most interesting is the bag system. you go to booth, pick your stuff, the vendor sticks the goods in a plastic bag, and puts it in this large pile (above), each bag connected by a wire tie. then the buyer (or hired person) comes back, gathers all the bags and sticks in another larger bag outside; then goes back shopping.
– bargaining. don’t expect to win haggle battles here. these people are hardened pros. if you do end up getting a better price, it’s probably just the price it’s supposed to be.
on the other side of the spectrum, Korea is also known for its duty free shops (they even have Duty Free malls in the city). Koreans (and asians in general) are the biggest brand whores. like many things, they take it to the next level. By the end of the trip, the site of a Chanel sign made me sick.
a moment of levity… for the first time in my life, I dropped a bomb in the airplane bathroom (sorry, TMI). I thought the toilet seat cover was pretty hilarious. I didn’t end up using it though, you’d have to be an olympian shitter to execute perfectly.
One of the best memories of visiting Seoul as a kid was the plethora (excuse SAT word) of arcades around the city. Sadly, most of the arcades seem to be gone, making way for PC “bahngs,” or PC rooms. Luckily, I found 1 in Insadong, complete with a retro section in the backroom. This is the og version of Snood, an addictive Tetris-like game….


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