Hello! Night market
The scene we often encounter at marketplaces is a crowded alley full of people taking a look at goods displayed on carts, and bargaining with merchants over prices.
A more picturesque one is with food ― the culinary delights that add spice to the scene.
The scene is reenacted at the night market in Shinjang-dong, Pyeongtaek in Gyeonggi Province. It opens every Saturday from 6 p.m. through 10 p.m.
But the market was especially bustling during the Saturday evenings from Sept. 22 through Nov. 23 when a festival called “Hello! Night Market” took place. During that period, merchants from all over the world came out on the streets to sell their country’s food on their own pink carts.
The festival, however, is not entirely over. It had opened on the main street during the festival period but will continue to be held inside a market building during the winter season. The carts will come back out on the streets next spring when the weather becomes warmer.
Foods from Mexico, Thailand, Turkey, China, Brazil, Japan, India, Africa, Mongolia and the Philippines which were sold on the carts will continue to be available in the market.
The concept of “night market” comes from the origin, which dates back to 50 years ago, of merchants buying goods in the nearby Songbuk market in the morning and selling them to U.S. soldiers and Korean residents in the region at night.
The Shinjang Shopping District was established in 1951 with the construction of Osan Air Base.
The Pyeongtaek market was designated as a “global market attraction” in April this year by the Small and Medium Business Administration. They plan to make the market into a specialized tourist attraction that ties the local regional and traditional market cultures.
The night market opens near the main thoroughfare of the Jung-Ang (Central) Open Market located inside the Shinjang Shopping District across the street from Osan Air Base’s main gate.
The main street of the shopping district is lined with various types of stores ranging from coin and souvenir shops to clothing and cosmetics. The street is also lined with foreign restaurants serving different dishes. The street resembles a more condensed version of Itaewon in Seoul.
Taking a right turn at any point off the main shopping street, you may find yourself in the Jung-Ang Open Market. The market is a traditional one selling all types of items ranging from clothes and shoes to vegetables, seafood, fruits and even cooked food.
The main street and the little alleyways off it are where the “night market,” in the form of a festival, is held every weekend. Not only do merchants sell their own home-made food, they also give performances.
There is a merchant troupe that performs traditional Korean percussion music as well as those who sing and dance. Amateur bands formed of students and citizens also participate as performers. Merchants perform comedy and magic shows as well.
Visitors at the market can participate in various activities such as making leather goods, receiving a caricature, making pottery and sculpting clay.
The market also holds events like the “lucky market” where visitors can buy goods at surprisingly cheap prices.
Some narrow alleyways inside the district display cute yet artistic wall paintings on the buildings where visitors can take photos.
When and where
The “Hello! Night Market” festival is being held for the first time this year. The ordinary market opens everyday and stores can be accessed at any time. But the night market, where visitors can experience trying various foreign foods, opens only on Saturday evenings.
The foreign delights will still be available inside the Jung-Ang Open Market building even though the festival is over, but to see the events and various performances you will have to wait until next year when the festival is held again.
To get to the night market, take a train and get off at Songtan Station and walk for about 10 minutes or take a town bus that stops at K-55. The market is short walk away from the bus stop. A taxi ride will also cost the standard fare.