07 November 2007

field trip #2: namdaemun market

satisfying shoppers for centuries.

for this field trip we leave tranquil seonyudo park for the crowded madness of namdaemun grand market.

the nation's largest retail market, namdaemun has operated for centuries and remains the main place where koreans exchange daily products between the country's urban and rural areas. whether you seek clothes, food, flowers, wigs, shoes, construction materials, dishes, glasses or ginseng, folks come here to get it. thousands of stores, stalls and carts fill several indoor malls as well as the (generally) car-less streets in the market.

while shopping for dishes, i heard a ruckus from across the street. the market is conveniently located almost smack dab in the middle of downtown seoul (between city hill and seoul's main train station), so there's typically something interesting going on nearby. on its west edge is the beautiful sungnyemun, or south gate. originally built to protect the city from korean tigers, the gate marks the southern flank of seoul's original city walls, which date back to the joseon dynasty.

sungnyemun is seoul's oldest wood-built structure (completed in 1398). the japanese destroyed seoul's ancient city walls during last century's colonial period, but thankfully the gate remains. in 1962 it was designated "national treasure no. 1" by the korean government.

anyhow, i crossed the street and was treated to see a pungmul (풍물) performance. pungmul is a korean folk music tradition combining drumming, singing and dancing that was developed in korea's more agrarian days. the cacophony of the drums, cymbals and t'aepyongso (a wind instrument) were accompanied by brightly colored dancers, who impressively spun their sangmo (상모) ribbon hats (and themselves) to the music. unexpectedly, as soon as they finished, a posse of korean b-boys started breaking. for the next several minutes old and new went back and forth and duked it out. both groups were cocky. very fun.

here's a video:

getting there:

→ take subway line 4 to hoehyeon station (exit #5)
→ or, take subway line 1 to seoul station (exit #4) and walk up towards sungnyemun gate
→ or, take a bus (23 from itaewon or 81 from dongdaemun)

1 comment:

ana may said...

asian invasion in the HOUSE