During the 1950s, refugees of war-torn Korea began opening up small shops to try to earn a living. This modest collection of shops has transformed into what is now Gukje Market (International Market, or Kookjae Market), Busan’s largest traditional market with vendors selling practically everything under the sun – items both new and secondhand.
While Gukje Market is very much a place where local Koreans still shop, travelers will find plenty of interest as well, besides the atmospheric street market atmosphere. It’s a great place to find hanbok, the traditional Korean formalwear, small souvenirs, T-shirts and favorite Korean street snacks, all at bargain prices. Whether you’re looking for bargain clothes, vintage glasses, some new electronics, or dried seaweed, prices are cheap and bargaining is totally accepted. Korean culture is based around dignity and respect for one another, so do bargain with a smile and always be polite.
This is a good place to stop for a bite to eat too. If you’ve never slurped noodles from a stall in the middle of a street, here’s your chance. A maze of a market, don’t worry if you get lost. Just ask anyone for Jagalchi subway station, and they’ll help you out.
You can reach Gukje Market by way of Nampo-dong Station. Take exit #1. It is also a five-minute walk northeast from Jagalchi subway station, which is on line 1.