The world of Korean fashion that we see exhibited through Instagram, idols, and influencers online can seem non-existent in real life, unless you visit the shopping streets behind Ewha Women’s University. These streets are lined with boutique after boutique of clothes you’ve only ever seen on your Instagram explore feed, all for very, very low prices.
How to Get There?
These boutiques are located on winding streets behind Ewha Women’s University. To find the area, walk towards the KFC (Ewha Women’s University Branch) and look down each side street until you see streets lined with clothes racks.
What Can You Find?
In these shopping streets, you can find plenty of shops catering mostly to women’s clothing but there’s also one men’s clothing store, a few shoe stores, and a bag store that sells purses, wallets, and duffle bags all for 10,000 won.
The shopping area caters to a wide variety of styles from demure, delicate styles with lace, pinstripes, and pastels to more edgy styles with chains, unique graphics, and bright neons.
This is also where you’ll be able to find many fakes* of popular name brands such as Supreme, Balenciaga, and Fila.
*“fakes” = products with name brands printed on them sold for a much cheaper price
The main attraction of all of these shops is their low prices, although there are a few exceptions; most boutiques in these areas are selling on trend clothes for as little as 5,000 won. You’ll find that most stores sell their sweaters and t-shirts for 10,000 won, socks for 1,000 - 1,500 won, while dresses, jackets, pants, and jeans can sell for a bit higher prices of 15,000 - 30,000; which is still fairly inexpensive compared to department store prices.
How to Pay?
It is recommended to bring cash when shopping in this area. Although most merchants do take cards, some of them will charge an extra commission on credit card purchases. To avoid the extra fee, make sure to visit a global ATM or exchange money in advance. There is a global ATM nearby in the GS25 in the Global Plaza at Yonsei University SK Global House dormitory.
While it is exciting to see so much clothing for cheap in one place, there are some practical downsides to shopping in this area that shoppers should be aware of.
The largest downside to shopping in this area is the lack of sizing options. Nearly all of the stores provide only one size clothing (also known as “free size”), meaning the size of the skirt or shirt on the rack is the only sie they have in stock—and it’s always very small. Particularly pants, skirts, and shorts are made to cater towards very skinny buyers, as well as some shirts are made to cater towards buyers with more narrow shoulders.
Similarly with shoes, shoe sizes in this shopping area run very small, anyone with a shoe size larger than a U.S. size six will have a tough time finding shoes that fit.
As much as it’s exciting to buy trendy clothes for cheap, you do get what you pay for in most cases. The lace fabrics will be very scratchy, t-shirts won’t survive more than one wash before becoming pilly, and jackets and backpacks will often start threading after too much wear.
Shoppers should be aware that some of these stores don’t open until around 11:00 a.m. or noon, and most of them close between 9:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. Hence, these streets are not very night owl or early bird friendly.
Although this area particularly caters to shoppers, there’s still plenty of street food to try; strawberry hard candy (딸기 사탕) is still in season and there’s an abundance of delicious dessert waffle stands. The area is also a hotspot for skincare and makeup, with every single Korean beauty brand you’ve ever heard of (Nature Republic, Innisfree, Missha, Skinfood, etc.) lining the same street. Regardless of your interests, browsing around the shopping streets behind Ewha Women’s University is a unique way to spend an afternoon in Seoul!
Written by Justine Shaffer