We lived in Georgetown, Texas for three years. Every second Saturday of the month the town would host a market day. I loved them. You could find local honey, every craft you could think of, and the best salsa verde I’ve ever tried.
I’ve really missed those market days. They were a wonderful way to meet and support local artists, and I found the best gifts there. The markets I’ve been to in Korea are quite different. The fabric, flower, and food markets here are nice in their own way, but not nearly as inspiring as Second Saturdays. That is, until I found the Free Market!
The Free Market is open every Saturday, March-November, in front of Hongik University at the Hongdae Playground. Local artists set up rows of tables to display their talent. There is a variety of talents displayed. A young man who fashions leather into passport cases and book covers may sit next to an older woman who is crocheting hats. There were rows of caricature artists, a woman offering calligraphy classes, and vendors who specialize in metalwork or pottery. My favorites were the jewelry and, of course, the journal booths. It’s like Etsy, but live and with lots of Koreans.
The Free Market is not just for artists looking to sell their art; organizers emphasize the idea that anyone can be an artist, and there are booths set up for art workshops. There is live music playing continuously, and the atmosphere is positive and electric. At least it was to me; I get really excited about local arts and crafts.
It can be pretty crowded, and it can be difficult to go against the flow of people. I don’t try to fight it too much, just meander along and buy local stuff!
There is a sister market called the Hope Market that is in the same location on every Sunday, March-November. I’ve been to the Free Market twice, but I haven’t made it to the Hope Market yet. From what I understand it has the same concept. I hope to visit on a Sunday to see how the two markets differ. I really wouldn’t be too upset if the exact same vendors were there.
So, if you’re in Seoul and looking for a market with a little more creativity, check it out! It’s the perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon!
Free Market: Hongdae (Hongik) Playground; 1-6 Saturdays, March-November
Hope Market: Hongdae (Hongik) Playground; 1-6 Sundays, March-November