문방구 (moonbangoo or “stationary store” in English, and similar to dagashiya 駄菓子屋 in Japan) are extremely interesting treasure troves of “junk” for kids in Korea. These shops still exist today, mainly deep within small pocket neighborhoods nearby lower schools~ we have a few in the backstreets of my area that I just love visiting because you get to see all sorts of fun things and it feels very nostalgic for me.
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Do you remember the quarter toys inside those plastic eggs, or maybe that toy aisle inside the grocery store filled with crap you wanted for reasons you could not explain? Yes, these old school 문방구 here in Korea really take me back to those days of jacks, cap guns, and silly putty when just $1 could make me happy for a solid afternoon!
These places were and still are always small little random old shops next to schools, you will not find the GOOD ones on the main streets~ so some exploring is required! These shops are mainly around for kids to buy class supplies for school, but the little aged shops still around also sell piles of cheap candy, toys, stickers, games, etc any kind of kid-tastic crap you can think of.
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Kids come here often during the precious free time they have after school before they head over to the hagwon to study some more, spending any extra money they happen to have. Walk by one of these shops after the school bell rings and you will find little crowds of kids buying all sorts of junk they do not need or just hanging around~ ah the good old days.
Nara remembers as a kid they would grab some spare coins and always head over to the small shop to play a video game for just 100won back in the day~ These shops had lots of little games just outside the doorway in TINY little booths with cheap plastic stools for the small players to squat down and use. The photo above is a very nostalgic scene for lots of Koreans that grew up here in the 1980’s-1990’s.
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Since kids flocked around the area, most grab machines and capsule toy machines back in the day were also located outside these tiny shops crammed full with goodies. These sorts of things are harder to spot nowadays though, which is kind of a pity because playing a cheap game is always fun even if the game is old.
I use the term “Old-school” for these sorts of 문방구 in this article because the name itself is generally just for any stationary shop here (which we have LOTS of) Those shops are always very cute and fun, but to get the REALLY interesting gritty ones filled with the best crap-tastic cuteness you have to dig around those back roads because they are essentially old holes in the wall! ♥
doll dresses, sucker guns, kites, bubble blasters, jump rope, and more…
Sometimes they sell larger toys as well, kind of like a local mini toy store ♥
Hanboks for your Barbie, Licca, or Mimi doll~ whatever fashion doll you prefer hehe
In time for the summer, this 문방구 had water guns, character fans, battery powered fans, and instant ice packs!
These photos were taken with my mobile phone, but I have several shops like this in my area so I will be returning for more photos very soon! Please look forward to a part II plus some fun items and games I purchased from these places 😀 Did you love junk toys as a kid? Do you live in Korea and have any old-school 문방구 by your home? I love moonbangoo so much!! ^^