Shopping in South Korea-Seoul and Beyond

Shopping in South Korea-Seoul and Beyond


The Coex Mall is said to be the largest underground shopping mall in South Korea. It is right next door to the Hyundai Department Store which I talked about in one of my South Korea travel diaries. It’s impossible not to get overwhelmed with all the shopping possibilities since there are stores as far as the eye can see.

Gangnam subway station (underground) is for inexpensive items while the Gangnam neighborhood itself (above ground) is a great place to shop Korean brands such as 8seconds and Etude House.

Myeongdong subway station (underground) has a great selection of cds and dvds for the kpop fan in your life. I definitely got my fix as the prices are a third of what they are in the States. The Myeongdong shopping area located above ground has a great selection of Korean brands. (pictured below) Ones I remember are the Nature Republic and Banila co. skincare brands. Most have people standing at the door giving out free samples.  Street vendors also sell food and small items like hats and earrings.


The Bupyeong subway station is awesome and has a wide variety of inexpensive items. It’s selection and size rivals the Gangnam subway station in Seoul. There are shops that sell new and used clothing. The shops that sell clothing with no duplicates sell used clothing. This is not be confused with shops that have one sample item to touch and more items in the back that are packaged, should you decide to purchase.

Look for shops with signs that show 20,000 ₩ (ee-man won) or 10,000 ₩ (man won). Those amounts, that are roughly $10 and $20 USD respectively, show where the best deals are. You can bargain if purchasing multiple items. Remember to be fair, as it’s their livelihood.


There is a large International Market near Haeundae Beach. You’ll find stalls that sell everything from freshly baked streetfood to traditional gifts. You can easily get lost and you should give yourself a limit as it winds on forever. Be sure to taste the Korean filled pastry called Hotteuk (pictured above).

The Haeundae Beach subway station area offers lots of shopping. Find many popular Korean Brands such as  Around 101 and Beanpole. Don’t forget all the cafes like Paris Baguette.

The Busan Shinsegae department store is massive. It’s supposed to be the largest department store in the world (I really thought Harrod’s in London was, but who knows for sure). There is floor after floor of luxury clothing and services. You can’t forget the food court, which was amazing. There was also a floor that had only desserts. Another can’t miss item is the ice skating rink. There aren’t many department stores that can say they have their own ice skating rink.

Bonus Shopping Spots

E-Mart, Lotte Mart, HomePlus and Daiso are found quite frequently in South Korea. E-Mart is like Target on steroids. Think Target with 4 stories of pure shopping bliss. You can literally spend hours there and you get to a point where just moving in the store seems like the most logical solution. Lotte Mart reminded me of E-Mart but smaller. So that your whole day is not lost shopping when you actually have things to do. HomePlus has home goods and is connected to some Lotte Marts.

Daiso is a Japanese dollar store-type store. While everything is not a dollar, the quality is worth the prices you’ll spend on items. This is a great place for souvenirs. Many of the locations I went to had a wide variety of snacks, skincare products as well as decorative ceramic dishware. I also visited Daiso while in the Dubai Mall this past March. I’ve also heard that there are a couple of them in the States but have yet to visit one.

If you truly love to shop, South Korea is your destination. Note that the sizing is different from the U.S. Many sizes of clothing in the underground shopping areas come in what’s called “Free-Size” which means one size fits all. And even that size itself is not consistent in every store. Underground shopping areas generally don’t have changing rooms. And some places may not even want you to try on clothes. It’s best to put the clothes up against your body and hope for the best. Usually the deals are so good that even if one piece doesn’t fit it’s not a big loss.

Have you shopped in South Korea? Where did you go? I want to know so I can go too.

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