The country has a reputation as a shoppers’ paradise and the low prices on some products and clothing justify the description.
Retailers usually speak limited English, except in areas frequented by foreigners, such as Itaewon in Seoul. Major department stores open from 10:30 a.m. and close around 7:30 pm.
While prices at department stores are fixed, you can usually haggle for lower prices at street stalls or outdoor markets. Don’t be shy to do it, it’s normal and if you don’t you’ll pay more than you should!
Some department stores like Lotte, Huyndai and New Core stock expensive and overpriced clothing and fashion accessories that you should avoid unless you’ve got too much bling you want to get rid of. Instead head to the shopping districts and outdoor markets, the best of which are in the capital, Seoul. Here are a few to take note of:
Myongdong – Popular outdoor Fashion District
Insa-dong – Good for antiques and art
ItaeWon – Foreigners area with a Modern shopping district
Noryargjin – Fish Market
Yongsan Electronics Market
Hwangkhak-dong – Flea Market
According to Korean beliefs, the first customer sets the stage for the rest of the day’s businesss, so store owners can be very persuasive and insistent toward the first person in their store.
They consider it bad luck if the first customer does not buy anything, so if you’re just a browser, be sure to wait for someone else to go in first!