Korean Eating: You’ve never had spicy chicken feet for lunch?
Any time I have a chance to introduce someone to Gwangjang Market (광장시장) and all of the delicious food and vintage market finds there, I am all over it. What? You’ve never been to Gwangjang Market? You’ve never had spicy chicken feet for lunch? You’ve never gone vintage shopping there? Tomorrow! Let’s meet at Jongno 5-ga Station exit 8 at 11:00. That’s usually how the conversation goes and once I’ve decided a friend must go, there isn’t much she can do about it, but why would she want to?
There is food for the adventurous like spicy chicken feet, pigs feet, stuffed squid, all of the intestines one could want to try and food for the “I’d rather be safe than sorry” sort like bibimbap (rice and vegetables in a spicy pepper sauce), a basic noodle soup, mini kimbaps and vegetable pancakes. There’s something for everyone and it’s all delicious. For the first-timers I recommend getting one adventurous dish and noodle soup or mini kimbaps. My friend had her first spicy chicken feet on this trip over. Lucky her, right?
The women that run the stalls usher those walking by to sit and enjoy their delicacies, along with some makkoli or soju if you’re in no rush, and smile broadly as they dish everything up. For those that can’t speak Korean, a lot of pointing and gesturing is just fine as they’re used to tourists. Take your time, enjoy your food and if you eat everything up you’re sure to please the women who love to see their patrons leave their stalls full and satisfied.After a tasty lunch that wasn’t hard on the wallet by any means and a little vintage market shopping, that was also not hard on the wallet, it’s nice to take a walk to burn off some of those calories. What better place than the Cheonggyecheon stream just to the south of the market? On the stream we headed to the west, toward Gwanghwamun. It was around a 3 kilometer walk and took us 45 minutes as we meandered and chatted. There were no festivals or lanterns to provide nice views, but even without all of the decoration, the Cheonggyecheon provides a lovely walk without all of the noise from the busy streets above.
On this walk, we spotted Banchado, a mural of the royal processional and heard the sounds of beating drums and traditional music coming from somewhere. I finally figured out where it was coming from. I have to admit that I’ve walked this path many times, and every time I came to this mural and heard the traditional music, I assumed there was some sort of parade happening on the street above. It does sit in a traditional area after all. I can’t count how many times I’ve scooted along past the mural to get to the steps to lead up to the street only to find nothing and to then assume that I just missed whatever show it was. Again and again, I just couldn’t believe my lack of luck and seeing whatever show it was. This time however, my friend pointed out the speakers that lined the wall above the mural, obviously easier to view without the foliage of the summer to hide them, and as she wondered aloud if they were making the noises I put two and two together and realized the noises of the traditional beats and horses were to accompany the mural pictures we were viewing! I could not believe I’d missed that so many times.
The mural depicts the 8-day royal parade of King Jeongjo and his mother when they journeyed to Hwaseong Fortress in Suwon to his father’s burial site. The beautiful mural sits on the stream between the Gwangtonggyo Bridge and the Jangtonggyo Bridge.
If you’re walking along the mural, but sure to enjoy the scene as well as the sounds that accompany it. The Cheonggyecheon is always a nice place to meander along downtown.
Gwangjang Traditional Market
서울특별시 종로구 예지동 2-1
2-1 Yeji-dong Jongno-gu Seoul, Korea
Bus: 106 , 140 , 143 , 150 , 160 , 273, 101 , 103 , 201 , 260 , 262 , 270 , 271 , 370 , 720 , 721, 163, 2112 , 7212
Subway: Jongno 5-ga station, exit 7 OR 8. Find an entrance, the market takes up one entire block.
Hours: 9:00am – 10:00pm
Secondary Directions: Gwangjang Market, Jongno 5-ga Station, exit 8. Out of the exit just turn in when you can to the left(south) and you’ll be inside the market. If you continue to the south just a block you’ll find the Cheonggyecheon and be able to walk to the west toward Gwangwhamun as we did.