Dongdaemun History & Culture Park, Subway Line 2, Exit 14
*I prefer to exit from here cause upon exit, you hit the popular shopping areas spot-on
Also accessible via Dongdaemun, Subway Line 1 & 4, Exit 8 or 9.
*A distance to walk and if you are there for the first time, you may not be able to spot the shopping belt (Hello aPM, Migliore, DOOTA etc.)
By now, Dongdaemun is highly commercialized and everyone knows it is a wholesale shopping place and wants to go there. Though it's still a recommended shopping area, I do find the things costing a little more than before and yet the quality is just so-so unless you really scrutinize the merchandise and have an eye for quality, you may end up buying some things that are "made in china".
Nevertheless, there is no harm visiting Dongdaemun as it's just strange to visit Seoul and NOT visit Dongdaemun - who knows, you may be able to find some treasures hidden in the multitude of apparels!
In this entry, I will dissect the shopping areas to 3 main categories (as far as I have observed):
1. Shopping for the mass (wholesale look-alike environment): Hello aPM, Migliore
2. Shopping in chic (department store look-alike enviroment): DOOTA
3. Shopping for the aunties (market loook-alike environment and I am not even talking about Namdaemun): Pyeonghwa Fashion Town
1. Shopping for the mass - Hello aPM, Migliore
This is what I feel resembles Fareast in Singapore. These shopping centres are about 4-5 storeys tall and all the shops are in an open-concept. The levels are usually segregated like Ladies Wear, Men's Wear, Denim, Kids etc. All the stores are small, and cramp looking and everything in the shop can be seen in 1 glance. There is no "window displays" pe se. Much less ANY shopping experience. It's a bargain city! And there are times when I do find "all the shops selling more or less the same things!" You will know when you visit. Price varies from 5,000 won to 40,000 won.
But still. Don't forgo visiting Hello aPM and Migliore just because of my descriptions. You may still find pretty decent stuff after going-through piles of clothes as you will see in the following pictures. And some stuff are really cheap, but please do check the quality and "made in" tags clearly to ensure you are buying something "made in korea" as the qty control is better.
Also, if you like a piece, please, please BARGAIN! They usually hand you calculators to press your preferred price when you start to ask for discounts. One word of caution though - ONLY bargain when you WANT to buy the piece sincerely. DO NOT just bargain for the fun of it. You will be glared upon with a rude stare and some loud hospitality.
Whilst walking from 1 building to another, you may also spot stand alone stores like Faceshop, Etude House, Tony Moly, Nature Republic etc. Do take time to enjoy walking down the street cause there are pretty tasty hawker stores selling sausages and random on-the-go snacks!
2. Shopping in chic - DOOTAThis is more of a proper shopping centre with a nice ambiance and lighting. Doota is 5-6 (or was it 7) storey tall? Similarly, every level is categorized via the merchandise they sell, but they have high-end leather goods, clothes, shoes etc complete with a household level and some randomly planted cafes in the likes of starbucks or coffee bean so shoppers can take a break and then continue shopping.
I must say, the shopping experience here will be better simply cause it is more organized and has stylish window displays (that you will see in the following pictures). The quality of goods are also significantly better (though you may chance upon "replicates" from aPM and Migliore, yet selling at 1.5 to 2 times the price you saw there!). Goods are likely to vary from 15,000 won to 200,000 won and even more! So shop - but wisely!
3. Shopping for the aunties - Pyeonghwa Fashion TownThis is a walk away from the previous mentioned shopping centres, directions below.
More like a market in a departmental store setting. I reckon this to be the real wholesale as each shop only specializes in that 1 item in multiple variation. But the kind of merchandise is limited. You will certainly NOT find your favorite jacket of tank top etc there. Most items will consist of accessories like belts to caps, gloves, hiking jackets, ties, aprons, etc (which is why I say this place is more for the aunties, though I DO ALSO shop there! haha)
And the items are really cheap, say 4,000 won for 1 belt. 8,000 won for a tie and 2,000 won for a cuff link? They sell things really cheap, in bulk (1 pair of socks can cost just 1,000 won).
Now the directions: At DOOTA, if you back-face DOOTA, on your left you will spot a small road. Cross it and follow the lane (which will lead to the Cheonggyecheon Stream) but before you get there, you will spot this old-looking building that is parallel to the stream (see 2nd photo) and that is Pyeonghwa Fashion Town)
Cross this small road
Now, if you are interested, you can cross to the opposite side of the road from this fashion town.
(that mean another parallel building but on the other side of the stream)
That is more of a wholesale for textiles, accessories, housing stuff (possibly where people go shop when they are getting married, cos you'd see curtains, cutlery, kitchen sets etc) more importantly, they sell those raw materials for accessories so, it's pretty fun to scan through that location - I did find a few nice costume jewelry pieces at super good prices!
See what I mean?
This was quite a mouthful for me tonight and I hope you found it informative for your travel plans!