Whether you’re spending a month in Korea or only spending a few days, it is a must to eat Korean cuisine. With such a wide variety of foods spread throughout the peninsula, it can be hard to choose where to go and what to eat, but not to worry! Gwangjang Market in Jongno-gu, Seoul is the place to go to satisfy all your Korean culinary cravings!
What is Gwangjang Market?
Still open after 114 years, Gwangjang Market is the oldest traditional market in South Korea. While this market may not be the largest, it certainly is one of the most popular. Nearly 65,000 visitors flood this street market every day, either hunting for a bite to eat or searching for a thrifty steal. And the visitors aren’t just tourists. Gwangjang Market is also a hotspot for locals! So whether you’ve lived in Seoul for years or just visiting for the week, you’ll be right at home in Gwangjang!
Mung bean pancake, also known as bindae-tteok (빈대떡), is a type of buchimgae (Korean pancake). As you may be able to tell, bindae-tteok is made from mostly from mung bean, yet it is common to add all kinds of vegetables and meat into this pancake. After the batter is made, the pancake is fried until it’s a light gold color. Just writing about it is making my mouth water!
Mayak gimbap (마약김밥), which literally translates into “narcotic gimbap,” is uniquely known to Gwangjang Market. Despite its eyebrow-raising name, there are no narcotics in this gimbap (phew!). Mayak gimbap earned its name by being addictively delicious. This dish (filled with spinach, pickled radish, and carrots) is sprinkled in sesame seeds and served with its own sauce of mustard and soy sauce. Just one bite will leave you craving for more!
Other Foods to Try
The first food on our list of honorable mentions is sundae (순대). It’s a type of blood sausage that is popular in Korea. This dish is made by stuffing cleaned intestines with blood, vegetables, rice, different meats, and tofu. All together, these ingredients make a surprisingly tangy and juicy sausage. Despite its mildly unnerving appearance, sundae is a popular street snack and is a hit with those trying it for the first time.
Stir-fried rice cakes, more commonly known as tteokbokki (떡볶이), is a dish made for royalty. Quite literally, in fact! Tteokbokki’s origin traces back to the Joseon Dynasty, when this dish was made with marinated beef, a variety of vegetables, and pine nuts. The modern version of tteokbokki, however, was popularized in the 1950s when street vendors started selling an easier version of it. Regardless of their origin, each of these little rice cakes look soft enough to seek your teeth into!
Hotteok (호떡) is a Korean-style pancake made with dough and stuffed with all kinds of sweet delicacies. Depending on what you're craving, a vendor can sell you hotteok filled with nuts, cinnamon, or honey! Some exciting modern twists include cheese, green tea, chocolate, and even pizza! Hotteok is truly a food that can satisfy any kind of craving.
Our last honorable mention is sannakji (산낙지), otherwise known as chopped live octopus. This dish is not for the faint of heart as it is served with the tentacles still wriggling around, even after the octopus has died. Sannakji tastes best with the sauce it is served with as the tentacles themselves don’t have much taste. However, eating sannakji is an experience to remember!
With these dishes in mind, the Fever Guys Fam hopes that the next time you visit Seoul, you’ll stop by Gwangjang Market and try all these delicious food for yourself!
Written by Leonard Cox