This spring Nara and I had the chance to quickly swing by the 화개장터 traditional market way outside Seoul during a bus tour! We don’t have a car here, so I really love it when I can get out of the city and explore… sadly those are rare chances though!

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Hwagaejangteo is a very old fashioned Korean market for mainly 한의학 herbal medicine items, any ailment you may have has a remedy that can be purchased here by the bag full!  This is one of those places in Korea that I still feel very out of place in, I spent a lot of time asking “what is this” or “what is that” ^^;

Older people are really into herbal medicine, so naturally they flock to these market the most~ however in the city it seems that modern younger Koreans still do believe in lots of traditional remedies and still stop by the Herbal Doctors when they have problems.  You have essentially two doctors you visit here, the hospital doctor and the herbal.

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Lots of the ingredients you see in these markets are brewed into special teas by the doctors, and really I (and even Nara) do not know half of what the are selling~ its way over my head haha so please just enjoy the photos for the most part! Just know that everything has some special secret to fixing something!

 Various flower nectar for sale

One of the many large shops stuffed full with dried herbs, seeds, roots, and more.

Along with Korean herbal medicine supplies, traditional pots, bowls, and other useful things can be purchased here

Some of the shop sold cute little figures with the traditional pottery!

 Flower bulbs for sale

These are natural dyed clothing that older people really like to wear around the house

 칡 root extract for sale~ Back when Korea was poor people enjoyed chewing this because it became sweet as you chewed on it. Nara says it actually tastes pretty horrendous though 😛 Something just older people enjoy now. Behind it is 겨우살이 which I had to look up, but is apparently mistletoe.

 The never-ending piles of mystery items~


Ok this was the grossest thing I saw all day, fresh shaved deer antlers. It was hard to not be a weird foreigner in this presentation room… I sat in the front and watched him shave this stuff fresh maybe 3 feet away from me. The horror!  AHH YOU CAN SEE THE FLUFF ON IT STILL (*_*)

If you see in one of the photos, depending on the area of the antler that you slice the color changes… the guy said that increased the potency of the treatment.  These are meant to be boiled into a tea, but apparently you had to be careful and pick the right “strength” because if it was too strong it would make you sick. This was considered one of the more pricey items for sale.  The kept the antlers in a huge ice cream freezer…. that was quite an experience.


toys to entertain the kids that got dragged to the market ^^

 Snack time!


Traditional Korean Blacksmith selling tools!

All that walking made us hungry, so we stopped to get a freshly made Korean Pancake (Jeon /전)


and we finished off the visit by watching some traditional Korean clowns goof around. haha they look awesome

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I think everyone here should stop by a traditional market at least once, it is a really interesting experience!! Korea has a ton of markets like this and even larger, you can find a nice list (plus info tidbits about each location) on the “visit korea” tourism site HERE although 화개장터 is not on the list~ I think because it is a smaller one! Still was lots of fun even though I did not buy anything haha ^^

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6 Responses to “화개장터 Hwagaejangteo Traditional Market”

  • Now that is something that would intrigue me to no end! I would absolutely love to be able to work there for a summer and learn as much as I could about which remedy does what, and why. That would be such an amazing experience and I imagine many of them probably work quite well!

    • Elle:

      Most of the people I know swear by Herbal Doctors for healthy living in the long term or dieting. Nara’s Mom has been at him to go all year since he has high levels of uric acid in his blood last time we went for a full exam at the normal Docs. They give you some tests and determine what “Type” you are which comes with this slip that says what you can and can not eat for your health… it is pretty amusing! Whenever I ask about diet pills here (because EVERYONE is on a diet it seems) all the girls swear that they just go to the Herbal docs to buy this expensive special tea they brew depending on your “type”. I should really go to one and blog about it sometime haha

  • You have a lovely blog. I like going to traditional markets. Amazing photos. 🙂

    • Elle:

      Thank you so much ^^ I saw in your blog you did a Sarasota post! I grew up in SW Florida and went to College in Sarasota at Ringling School of Art in downtown~ hope you had a nice visit!

  • i really love places like this! putting this place on my to-do list with my family! my father will just spend hours and hours in this place!

    seems really fun!

    thanks elle

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