June 16, 2009 § Leave a comment
Today I went to Namdaemun Market. Namdaemun is one of the oldest and largest retail markets in Seoul. The two big outdoor shopping areas are Namdaemun and Dongdaemun. Those two terms respectively mean South Gate and East Gate.
They sell all kinds of things at Namdaemun: housewares, blankets, clothes, hats, sunglasses, hair accessories, earrings, food, shower scrubs, you name it. My favorite part was negotiating prices. At Namdaemun they expect you to haggle so they purposely quote a higher price than they would really sell it for. I’ve never really negotiated prices before in America so it was really fun to do in Korea. I had the advantage of being surrounded by middle aged ladies and grandmas so if I called one of the salesmen “oppa” (older brother), they looked on me much more kindly. Convincing a salesperson to sell you something for a cheaper price is a bit like campaigning for office or giving a elevator pitch (a business term that basically means explaining your venture in 30 seconds or less). You have 30 seconds to convince them that you are interested (but not too interested) and you have to give them a good reason for wanting to give it to you for a cheaper price. You also have to work to your strengths. Like I said, I was younger than a lot of the people there so I relied on my youth and innocence (kekeke). I had to convince them that I was young, innocent, and poor. Some hagglers are really pushy and use intimidation tactics to guarantee lower prices but I am way too inhibited or considerate to do that. I’m more of the shy type who you kind of feel sorry for and are charmed by their good manners. HAHAHA. Anyway, it worked. =D
I will probably go back again before I leave Korea to buy some more things. This trip was more for my mom since she is leaving in a couple days and I just followed her around as she bought gifts and necessities for America. I don’t like it when my mom spends too much unnecessary money though so I had to follow her around and constrict her spending habits. I’ve lived with her long enough to know that she will regret spending so much money but she seems to forget that in the moment. One of the salesmen at a hair accessory stand laughed at us and commented on how the roles were reversed with us. Instead of the mom stopping the daughter from looking at all the pretty things and buying everything, it was the other way around. He was really nice though and gave us a good price.
I saw a lot of cute earrings and accessories but they were wholesale sellers and wouldn’t let me buy just one. I’m thinking it might not be such a bad idea to try to buy some in bulk in Korea and try to sell them online or in America but that’s something I will have to think a lot more about before I actually make a decision.
Anyway, here are some pictures from the market:
Later that night I went out to dinner with my relatives at this place that is well known for their anchovy dishes. I think my stomach hurts right now because I overate. Everyone wants to feed me here and they seem so happy when I finish all my food and I want to make them happy so I have been eating way more than I would normally eat. It used to always frustrate me when my friend Connie would never say no to adults but now that I am in Korea, I understand! When you grow up in such a hierarchical society in which respect is ingrained, its hard to even think about disobeying the wishes of an elder. That’s why I can’t tell my aunts and uncles if I’m full or don’t feel like eating. lol. It’s all yummy food though so I don’t mind that much.
After dinner I went over to Jungwoo oppa’s place and played omgpop. Hehe. I think they fixed their servers or something because now I can play real time! Woohoo! I also did real work like plan the rest of my Asia trip. I really need to get cracking on that because I leave Korea in less than two weeks! I don’t want to think about it though because I get so sad when I think of not seeing my relatives for a long time. =(
Anyway, Jungwoo oppa and I did some language exchange stuff. I asked him to help me correct my pronunciation so I sound like a real Korean. Even at Namdaemun today they could tell that I was a foreigner. The most interesting thing Jungwoo oppa made me realize is how the shape of your mouth affects the sounds. I need a LOT more practice before I can sound like a real Korean, if that is even possible. It’s funny though because Jungwoo oppa commented on how his Korean pronunciation was getting worse because of me. LOL! He also started using bad grammar because of me. =) Man, there were so many funny things that happened as we hung out but I forgot them all. Hope you enjoyed the update! For some reason it is getting harder and harder for me to update. I think it’s because I’m having so much more fun hanging out with real people that I don’t anticipate the thought of writing all my experiences down. However, I really want to keep my loved ones updated and have this for my own records so I will make sure to continue. Hope everyone is doing well in America or wherever you are!