Hwanghak-dong Flea Market - The UOS Times
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Hwanghak-dong Flea MarketThe Warehouse of Past Memories
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[0호] 승인 2009.12.06  
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Is `new` really more important than age? The place where you can feel sorry or nostalgic about old items that are rarely using today is in Hwanghak-dong! This is the largest flea market in Seoul where there are the traces of our past, like old used possessions, and an old market that makes you that feel that you have awakened during past times.

Antique shop managers gathered at Hwanghak-dong Flea Market initially during the Korean War (6.25). They developed a large antique marketplace close to today`s Samil-apartments. There were originally about 150 antique shops and 500 old shops but because of the Cheonggyecheon restoration many shops moved to the Folk Flea Market in Dongdaemun.

Actually the Hwanghak-dong Flea Market is the original Korean flea market. It is sometimes called the Doggaebi (hobgoblin) Market because there are many old things that make you feel the appearance of hobgoblin from the antiques.


Via the Dongmyo Stone Wall and near the Cheonggyecheon there are thousands of antiques and it is a magnificent sight. There are endless signboards, many people who are buying and selling items, the sounds of the medicine peddler`s drum fill the air and visitor`s foot steps echoes throughout the market streets. In addition to the uncountable shops and street peddlers, it`s no exaggeration to say, “There are all things under the sun!” You can find used antiques, folk polytechnics, old furniture, chinaware, old books and pictures that were printed or drawn in Hanji, LP disks, used electronics, julgutong, millstones, old cameras, brassware, walkmans, old sculptures of Buddha, abacuses and so on. It is hard to find some of these things today because many things are not manufactured any longer. Needless to say, this makes the flea market more interesting and fun. There are even some funny jokes about the endless supply of goods. For example, `You can buy material and tools and you can make space ship or tank!`


Another marketplace is the Hwanghak-dong Flea Market which has variety of products. Some people might wonder that these old antiques are really useful today! However, others may want to feel nostalgia about their past or they are an antique collector. If so, Hwanghak-dong is an oasis for them. Between the 1960s and 1970s some people bought electronics and celadon porcelains for very cheap prices. Today, you can also buy legendary groups` albums like The Beatles or Led Zeppelin in old records shop. In addition, you can buy old videos like The Barefooted Young (Sin Seong-il, Eum Ang-lan played the leading part). In secondhand bookstores you can buy 1950`s biographies of great man, comic books or novels. It can be called a `museum of antiques!`


Walking through the Hwanghak-dong Flea Market makes you to feel like you are walking through the past. Old antiques at least 30~50 years old are all around you. Not only are there antique goods, but there are also traces of people`s history. Each antique has its original owner`s recollection and ring of memory. Time can go very fast when seeing all these old second hand antiques that are disorganized and somewhat a little messy. The other feature is that because of a variety goods, there are much more visitors than people who are buying or selling. There are old man wearing old-fashioned jacket, middle aged women who are here to buy cheap goods for the necessities of life, several couples who are just looking at all the funny antique, foreigners who want to find items about Korea`s history and a camera man who visits the Hwanghak-dong for their own different purposes because they may just like the variety of goods.

Between the Cheonggyecheon restoration site and the Lotte apartments, there are places that have both aspects of the present and the past. Nowadays, because of redevelopment, the appearance of Hwanghak-dong is slowly vanishing.


Historically, the word `flea market` comes from the French which means a market which is not allowed. Nowadays, the French calls the flea market a `Marche` Aux Puce`. In France there are designated market areas on the street and areas where they are not permitted to have a market. In the areas that are not permitted the commoners run away to avoid the police`s enforcement and come back to sell when the police are gone. This looks like a flea. So today, people refer to the open air markets as `flea markets.` Also, the French word `Puces` has another meaning which stands for `dark brown.` So, the market which mainly sells dark brown antique furniture is called the Marche` Aux Puces and the meaning of flea market has remained strong all through the years.

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