Tongin Market is one of the oldest traditional markets located in Seoul. It was once a public market set up for the Japanese residents back in 1941 when Korea was under Japanese rule. Tongin Market is near Gyeongbokgung Palace.
Although, there are other famous traditional markets in Korea like Gwangjang Market, I chose to visit Tongin Market for a unique experience. It is famous for the Yeopjeon (엽전) and Dosirak (도시락). Yeopjeon is a Korean brass coin with a square cut in the middle and was used during the Joseon Dynasty. Dosirak literally means lunchbox.
After our tour at Gyeongbokgung, I asked my friends to come with me to Tongin Market for lunch. I was in a hurry because the Yeopjeon Dosirak is only available from 11am to 4pm. And take note that is it closed every third Sunday of month and the Dosirak Cafe is closed every Monday.
I was told that there’s an Ahjusshi who sells Yeopjeon at the entrance of the market but I didn’t find him maybe because it was already getting late. So I went to the Dosirak Cafe at the 2nd floor to buy the Yeopjeon. I paid ₩5,000 and the lady gave me an empty lunchbox and 10 Yeopjeon. Then I immediately went down to fill my lunchbox with variety of Korean dishes and street foods. 10 Yeopjeon is enough to buy 5 to 6 kinds of foods. Most dishes are worth 2 coins and the others you can buy for 1 coin. It’s totally worth it. After spending my coins, I went back to the 2nd floor to eat and enjoy my filled lunchbox.
I actually kept 1 coin in my wallet as a souvenir 🙂
If you are a foodie who wants to try out Korean foods when you visit Seoul, I recommend Tongin Market.
Getting there: Take subway Line 3 and get off at Gyeongbokgung Station, Exit 2. Continue straight for approx. 700m. The market will be on your left.