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Flavors and Flair of the Traditional Marketsin Daegu, Gyungbuk

2016-02-05 11:10:12






Flavors and Flair of the Traditional Markets in Daegu, Gyeongbuk
The Daegu, Gyeongbuk region has always been known for its good people. Accordingly, friendliness flows throughout its well-developed, bustling traditional markets. Let’s take a look around the 100-year-old Seomun Market and the Yeongcheon Public Market, which began operating in the Choseon Dynasty.
Seomun Market

Seomun Market: 100 years of history

Daegu Seomun Market dates back to the middle of the Choseon Dynasty. Formerly known as “Daegu Market,” it was one of the three largest markets in the Choseon era along with Pyongyang Market and Ganggyeong Market. Daegu Market continued to grow and was renamed “Seomun Market” in 1922 because it was situated in the western part of Daegu (“seo” means west and “mun” means gate). Covering an area of 27,062㎡ and a building area of 64,902
㎡, the extensive market sells everything under the sun from hanboks and accessories to bedding, dishware, fresh produce, dried fish, and fresh seafood. Seomun Market has been sustaining the livelihood of the working class ever since its opening. It has been around for so long that there’s really nothing you can’t buy there. Visitors will find shopkeepers of the vast market to be extremely generous. Napjak mandu, a flat dumpling that is unique to Daegu, is the first to entice shoppers. The dish is so popular that the aroma alone has become a trademark of the market. And you can’t leave out seeded hoddeok (flat cakes), kalguksu (noodles), and handmade sujebi (Korean dumpling soup).

Nationally famous for fabrics
Unlike most traditional markets, many of Seomun Market’s customers are young people. College students pick out craft materials for accessories, engaged couples order custom-tailored hanboks for their wedding, and shopkeepers travel from far away to buy fabric. Seomun Market is truly living up to its reputation for carrying some of the best silks, linens and cottons in Korea. The 1950s saw the formation of the country’s largest fabric market, as textile wholesalers clustered in the vicinity. The advantages of belonging to a city with a tradition of textiles enabled it to grow as the largest wholesale market for apparel and fabrics. At its peak in the late 1950s, it was responsible for 40% of transactions among Daegu’s fifteen markets combined. It also played a central commercial role in the provinces of Gyeongsang, Chungcheong, and Jeolla, taking up almost half of the total transaction of textiles in the country.
Fashionable clothing shops for the twenties and thirties crowd and entertainment facilities for teenagers are on the rise, attracting younger customers and shopkeepers alike to the market. There is something for everyone to enjoy at Seomun Market, the place filled with fun stories at every corner.  Yeongcheon Public Market, a Major Player in Yeongnam

Yeongcheon Public Market is one of the three largest in the Yeongnam region, together with Daegu Seomun Market and Andong Market. According to records, the market opened near the end of the Choseon Dynasty and was moved from its first location by the Namcheon River to its present venue in Wansan-dong in 1955. Not only did it connect the city and the rural area, it also served as a meeting place for the residents of Yeongcheon, Daegu, Yeongnam and beyond. The market is most famous for dombaegi, which is the Gyeongsang colloquial name for “shark meat.” Dombaegi” is valued highly in Yeongcheon; it is one of the dishes served during ancestral rituals called “jaesa”. Fish was always hard to find in the inland region. Transportation to and from the East Sea was not only inconvenient, but fish also tended to spoil in transit to Yeongcheon. That is, until salt became available. Fishermen found that by cutting the shark open and pouring salt inside the shark meat could be kept from spoiling for more than two days. The difficult task of salting and airlifting the massive sharks explains why Dombaegi was so precious back then. To this day, Yeongcheon locals make sure to include the precious meat at banquets and ancestral services.

Open on days ending in 2 or 7
Another source of pride for Yeongcheon Public Market is Gomtang Street, an alley of restaurants specializing in beef- bone soup. The clean and orderly alley can be considered a market in and of itself. The restaurants there receive delivery orders from around the country—showing that they have won the nation’s approval. One bowl of the rich and milky soup will refresh your body during the hot summer. Countless numbers of repeat customers have been buying Gomtang from the alley for more than twenty years.
Yeongcheon Market is divided into a section for dining and a section for dried seafood and dombaegi, making it convenient for shoppers. The market is also well-known for boddari mandu, dumplings shaped like small bundles. Each dumpling is filled with japchae, and the four sides of the flatly-rolled wrap are folded over. First-timers are sure to become devoted fans of the chewy, stuffed bundles. This is just one of the countless foods the market has to offer, so make sure to come with an empty stomach when it opens six times a month on days ending in 2 or 7.