Seogwipo is a beautiful city perched on the south coast of Jeju Island, South Korea’s answer to Hawaii. Famous for its black pig cooked over open charcoal, sweet citrus fruits and waterfalls, Seogwipo is also home to an enchanting indoor farmers’ market that stretches down city block after city block with produce, meat, fish and prepared foods.
The largest market in Seogwipo, Olle was started in the early 1960s and expanded in 2001 to be over 2,000 feet long. It is a major source of economy for locals.
Protected by a series of arcades that allow light to filter in, the Olle Market is on all day, rain or shine. Here you will find vendors gamely hawking their popcorn chicken, grandmas chopping fresh vegetables for kimchi, children running behind their mothers, scooters delivering shipments, and dogs chasing the scent of food. There is a free delivery service of certain goods, and a stage for entertainment during big festivals.
Dakota Kim is a food writer, gardener, mushroom hunter and burlesque producer living in Brooklyn. She likes to brew strange Korean medicinal teas and bake vegan desserts. She is currently working on a cookbook featuring burlesque performers called Bombshell Bakers. Tweet her @dakotakim1.
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Lotus root, chopped and seasoned, stays good in the open air for quite a while. Fiery red salads are seasoned with gochugaru, the Korean red pepper spice.
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A hungry dog patrols the farmer's market, hoping for some fallen crumbs from a street food stall. Many dogs in Korea carry some blood from the jindo, the Korean national dog.
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A woman peddles dak gangjung, Korean popcorn chicken to rival Popeye's. For a mere 5,000 Korean won (a little over $4.00), you can have a belly full of spicy or mild popcorn chicken.
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Anchovies are big business on Jeju Island, and many varieties are available, in varying sizes. They are often stir-fried and seasoned, then served crispy with rice.
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These are two of the most classic Korean pojangmacha street foods: spicy street food ddukboki, which consists of chewy, fat rice cakes in a spicy chile sauce, and battered and deep-fried nori rolls (often stuffed with vermicelli glass noodles like the ones in japchae).
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Chestnuts roasting over an open fire? Not quite as romantic in Korea, but they're still a favorite food, sold on the street raw or roasted.
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Ginseng is sold by the piece at exorbitantly high prices, valued for its powerful properties of vitality, energy and immunity.
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The market also features home goods, clothing and relaxing places to sit and take a load off, having a snack or gazing at the sunlight filtering into the arcades. Walter Benjamin would find many a flaneur here just to look.
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Mushrooms are beloved across Korea, and Jeju Island is host to a beautiful selection of mushrooms growing naturally, including trumpets.
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The market stall ladies chop and prepare chicken for sale, and also make stews to sell and to eat on their lunch breaks.