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Photo Essay: New and old cultures mingle at the Nampo-Dong Market Special

By Dinh Nguyen     Sep 14, 2013 in Travel
Busan - There is a place in the former capital of South Korea, Busan, that is said to be a hidden tourist attraction. Nampo-Dong is not widely advertised in travel brochures, but it is gaining popularity among the international community.
Nampo-Dong is a shopping hotspot located on line one in the Busan subway system. It is a collage of the contemporary and traditional culture. While the large main streets contain name-brand outlets, elegant restaurants, music concerts and art, the side, narrower, sometimes alleyway-like streets operate on a more traditional basis. They are full of bartering customers and small independently owned shops, clothing stalls and street food vendors.
While the main streets of Nampo-Dong is filled with crowd pockets and visitors moving in and out like fish floating through a stream , the smaller side streets are packed. Being narrower, there is not as much room to navigate. Bartering for lower prices is expected in these cloister, whereas it is less common on the main streets.
Bronze statues at the Nampo-Dong market are posed in a way that allows passerby to inter act with th...
Bronze statues at the Nampo-Dong market are posed in a way that allows passerby to inter act with them. This one is greeting with a hand shake.
The sight of foreigners here is very rare compared to other areas in South Korea. Non Korean people who come to Nampo-Dong are usually locals working in Busan, or have heard of it through word of mouth.
A view of the sky during sunset at the Napo Market in Busan. The market gets more lively as the day ...
A view of the sky during sunset at the Napo Market in Busan. The market gets more lively as the day fade into night.
Though the markets close early, around 10 p.m. compared to the 2 a.m. to 24hours in other popular streets in Busan, Napo-Dong becomes more lively at night.
Islands of food vendors are stationed like rocks in a flowing stream. They are surrounded by customers-- many walk around them, while others gather around them.
Tteok (Korean rice cake) cooked in a spicy sauce is a popular food that served at street food stands...
Tteok (Korean rice cake) cooked in a spicy sauce is a popular food that served at street food stands. It is enjoyed for it's chewy texture.
Unlike most countries in the in West, Asian Street food like the ones in Nampo-Dong are unique for their communal and homely aspects. Here the food is cooked in front of the customers as they cluster around the stall with seats and eating platforms. The workers-- if there is more than the owner themselves-- will have conversations with their customers while they eat. Sometimes they cook them dishes on the house as an added bonus. Customers will often have conversations, or toast alcohol with eating strangers-- especially if the strangers are from outside Korea.
Often cooking multiple things at once, handling fast transactions, and holding conversations, the chefs are the stars of the street food stalls-- but everyone is made to feel special.
The smaller streets of Nampo-Dong is way too crowded for vendors to safely display large mirrors at their stand. Most use a portable option that will help buyers with their purchase decisions.
Most vendors do not speak English at the Nampo market. Most business in South Korea will have a calc...
Most vendors do not speak English at the Nampo market. Most business in South Korea will have a calculator on hand. They used these to communicate prices with foreign customers.
Among many miscellaneous shops, the Nampo-Dong Market is known for it's fashion business. For inexpensive clothes, people usually entertain the side streets. Smaller businesses like clothing stalls will not have room for a cash register. They use calculators as an alternative and to communicate the prices with those who don't speak Korean. Foreigners can also use the calculators to barter.
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