Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Fabric shopping in Seoul at Dong Dae Mun, Part I

Seoul is any shopper's paradise for retail goods. Fortunately for me, it's also a place to find raw materials for my crafting hobbies. Dong Dae Mun (a.k.a. DDM) shopping area is where wholesalers go to buy their ready-to-wear merchandise. These malls and markets are also open to the general public and the area is most famous for its night markets (open until 4 am for the hardcore consumer).

My favorite area at Dong Dae Mun is the fabric market. If you want to go by the name on the buildings, it's Dong Dae Mun Shopping Complex. Here's how to get there by subway- you can Google for a full picture of the Seoul Metro system map. I've never driven there and only took the bus once so traveling underground is my usual MO:

Subway Line 4 (light blue)
Dong Dae Mun stop, Exit 9

Do not get off at the Dong Dae Mun History and Cultural Park stop. If you do, exit 13 will be the closest one to DDM and you will need to walk about 5 minutes. Refer to the picture (click to enlarge) for the general direction of where that stop will spit you out in the area.

Once you've arrived:
Coming up the stairs of exit 9, you will find building C of the shopping complex to the left of you after you pass a small newspaper stand and the edge of the surface parking lot of DDM. You can enter from a "main" entrance right next to the information booth, or find one of many other entrances along the buildings.

Navigating the 4 interconnected buildings with floors for shopping:
Building A- basement to 5th floor

Building B- basement to 5th floor

Building C- basement to 5th floor
The only 2 elevators in the market are in this building, the 5th floor of C does not have vendors, follow the signs when you get off the elevators to get to the 5th floor of Building A and B. I think this building goes higher but they are all offices beyond the 5th floor.

Building D- 1st to 4th floor (I'm pretty sure this building doesn't have a basement, at least I haven't been to the basement of D if it exists)

These 4 buildings are interconnected either by a "bridge" or with open walls to each other. If you aren't paying attention you will go from one building to the next without realizing the change. Each vendor has a sign over their stall that includes the shop's name, their phone number, and their identifying stall information. This is the format: the building letter, the floor they are on, and the actual vendor stand. In the picture below you can find this vendor in D-3-1811: building D, floor 3, area 1811 (all on the top left hand corner of the blue sign- click picture to enlarge).

Most of the time these stalls are in numerical order, but not always. As long as you have a general idea of where you are you shouldn't have to walk too far to find where you need to be. In the main aisles of each floor there are usually signs hanging from the ceiling to point to where 2 other buildings are in relation to you. Most of the time they are accurate but in my earlier trips I ran into a few that took me to no man's land. If you can mentally map out the layout of the 4 buildings you shouldn't have a problem hopping from building to building.

There are stairs in the middle of each building, some of the buildings have escalators too.

Operating hours during the week: 9 am -5 pm, 9 am -3 pm on Saturdays, closed on Sundays. On Saturdays the 5th floor vendors stay later than 3 (maybe up to 5 pm?) but most people on the lower floors start packing up around 2:30 pm. 

Things to be aware of when shopping:
-Old men (ajishis) carrying wooden racks filled with bolts of fabric on their back. Steer clear of the way when they are moving up and down the stairs or in the aisles, they will push you if need be. I can't blame them, bolts of fabric are heavy!!
-Space is tight and it's always busy. Bring a backpack if need be and I would wear it in the front for easier manipulation when moving/turning around tight corners.
-Any floor above the 1st floor will be quite warm in the winter. Wearing layers is essential to staying comfortable. The buildings are air conditioned in the summer but it can get warm too. 
-Restrooms are readily available by the stairs on each floor but most are squat style for the ladies, BYOTP- bring your own toilet paper.
-Filtered water from coolers is free on all floors, also usually found by the staircases
-The elevator button pushing ladies have *gorgeous* uniforms!!! I personally would kill myself if I had a job that involved pushing buttons all day long, maybe the cute clothes are supposed to help make it bearable. (I found this picture on Google)

With this information you should be able to get to the fabric market. How to find anything there will be covered in an upcoming entry, along with a quick run down of places to grab some food before you shop. I also want to tell you about the fabric shopping at Gwang Jang market, a great place to find cheaper remnants from DDM.

1 comment:

  1. Ming, we went to the DDM fabric market for the 2nd time yesterday (and everything was closed, bummer! I should have found your blog first!). What are the other buildings like/what do they consist of? We are going to try and go again tomorrow!!! :D