Itaewon was the first neighbourhood I lived in when I came to Korea, so I have explored most of the alleyways and shops in my free time. However, in the past few years, the shops and restaurants have changed so much and I am not as familiar with the area. Itaewon is more popular than ever. So, these days while wandering the streets, I usually stumble across someplace new.
I first visited the Itaewon Market in 2011 when it was recommended to me by a friend. Since it is in the basement of the building, I’m not sure I would have gone down to shop otherwise. The building itself is older, but don’t let this deter you. There are some very lovely shops to be found. The market is primarily women’s clothes and accessories located on the first floor and basement of the market building. The boutiques have various styles of clothing at different price points. Most of the clothes are very affordable and shops are always open to bartering.
The staff working are super friendly and many can even speak a little English. I love when I enter a store and the saleswoman is proud to show me a garment that she thinks would suit me. Shopping is not something I do very often and am no fashionista, so I am always open to styling suggestions. I will mention that most of the clothes are “Korean sized”, so the choices may be limited for those with a different body type.
Some of the shops just outside the market offer larger sizes. These shops usually have a sign “Big Size” outside.
What I love about the boutiques is that there are some very unique pieces to be found. Overall, the shops have become trendier and more organised than when I shopped here years ago. The summery window displays make me wish I was relaxing by the beach, and not in sweltering Seoul.
Along the main building and on the neighboring streets there are many small shops, again selling mostly women’s clothing. For a small shopping area, the selection is quite large.
The most unique shop has to be the Army Apparel store “DMZ” directly across the street. Here you can find assorted camouflaged clothing and accessories, bags, boots and other miscellaneous items.
Overall, this market is great for shoppers who try to avoid large crowds. The shopping experience is leisurely compared to other markets and shopping districts in Seoul.
The market is very easy to find from the subway. From Itaewon station, take exit 4 and walk straight until you come to the market building on your left.
The market hours are 9:30 am until 8:30 pm. The market is closed every Tuesday.