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Night markets come alive all across Seoul

Each weekend event will be filled with delicious treats, crafts and more
Mar 31,2018
Visitors queue up in front of a food truck at the Seoul Bamdokkaebi Night Market held in Yeouido, western Seoul, in 2017. [WOO SANG-JO]
Seoul Bamdokkaebi Night Market begins this Friday and Saturday in five different locations in Seoul. The market will offer a wide range of evening fun, such as delicious dishes sold at food trucks, left, at the Yeouido Han River Park, and artists selling their unique creations at the Dongdaemun Design Plaza market, center. The market held at Cheonggyecheon stream, right, is the most traditionally Korean of them all. [WOO SANG-JO, SEOUL BAMDOKKAEBI NIGHT MARKET]
With warmer temperatures heading our way, a picnic in the sun or a hike in the mountains are now great ways to spend an afternoon. Once the sun goes down, the best part of the warmer months is being able to stay outside late into the night and enjoy the city under the street lights with a can of beer in hand.

Starting this weekend, the Seoul Bamdokkaebi Night Market will open every Friday and Saturday evening in five spots across Seoul until Oct. 28: Yeouido Han River Park in western Seoul; Banpo Han River Park in southern Seoul; Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) in central Seoul; Oil Tank Culture Park in Mapo District, western Seoul and Cheonggyecheon stream in central Seoul.

Bamdokkaebi, or night goblins in Korean, describes how the night market opens up when the sun goes down. The first night market was held in 2015, when the Seoul Metropolitan Government set up a small market with some 120 street vendors and food trucks at Yeouido Han River Park. After it managed to gather more than 200,000 visitors in one month, it became an official event the following year. The night market attracted more than 500,000 visitors in 2017.

Each venue will feature vendors, food trucks and live performers, but be sure to check out which spot has what, as each location has something special for visitors. Visitors are recommended to take both cash and card to the markets as each vendor has different payment methods. Although parking lots are available, drivers may have a tough time finding a spot, so arriving by public transportation is preferred.

Yeouido World Night Market

The Yeouido World Night Market is the most popular of the five night markets in Seoul. After spending the day by the river with friends and family, visitors can drop by to check out the food trucks with a range of offerings that you wouldn’t expect from such small kitchens. Fill up your stomach with delicious bites that will be ready to eat faster than delivery - as long as there is no line.

The market opened on Friday, and will open every Friday and Saturday from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Yeouido Han River Park is right outside Yeouinaru Station, line No. 5, exit 2 or 3. Performance schedules will be posted on www.bamdokkaebi.org, as well as schedules for other venues as well.

Banpo Romantic Moonlight Market

For those who’d like to see some performances on big stages, the Banpo Romantic Moonlight Market is the place to go. The riverside park offers all the fun of a street market at night, with the addition of performances using stage lights, and live music on stage.

Last year, visitors could make prior reservations on the market’s Facebook page and book a seat in either a canopy tent or a picnic table for a small fee of 1,000 won ($0.94) on a first-come-first-served basis. This year’s events will also be posted on the page www.facebook.com/bamdokkaebi.

The Banpo market also opened on Friday. It will be held every Friday and Saturday from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m until October. To get to the park, get off at Sinbanpo Station, line No. 9, exit 1.

DDP Youth Runway Market

The design plaza in central Seoul is famous for its trendy art and design works, and the Youth Runway Market will be a chance to see just that. Along with all the food and festivities, the DDP market will feature a vast array of handmade goods by young locals and talented artists at a bargain price. If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind pair of earrings, bag or other items that can’t be found in stores anywhere else in the city, then this is the market for you.

To give the event a youthful vibe, DJs will be performing live next to the market, and visitors can dance along with a cocktail in their hands. DDP is located outside of Dongdaemun History and Culture Park, lines No. 2, 4 and 5. The market opened on Friday, and will run every Friday and Saturday from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Mapo Forest Picnic Market

The Oil Tank Culture Park in Mapo District is one of Seoul’s newest parks. Having opened in 2017, the once-abandoned facility is now a park for the city’s residents to enjoy. The Forest Picnic Market has the highest number of civilian vendors who have signed up prior to the opening of the market.

If the other markets are more focused on getting the visitors excited and energetic, this market focuses on giving people a peaceful refuge from the hustle and bustle of urban life. Rather than upbeat music and dance performances, the performances at Mapo will be calm and serene, which goes perfect with the gentle breeze coming from the nearby forest.

The park is a five-minute walk from World Cup Stadium Station, line No. 6. The market will open on Saturday. It will run every Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., an hour earlier than the other markets as its location is near a residential area.

Cheonggyecheon Time Tour Market

The stream flowing through the heart of central Seoul is perfect for an evening stroll, and every Saturday and Sunday will be the Time Tour Market held near Gwangtong Bridge, where visitors can experience a time-travel experience with the antique night market. Vendors here at the stream sell decades-old wares that had been locked deep inside their homes, and walking by the vendor booths will be like touring through Korea’s past.

Another attraction at the Cheonggyecheon stream will be the Season Market at the Cheonggye Plaza, which will be held once every month in May, June, September and October. The four pop-up markets will each be themed around different ideas: the positive energy that comes from nature in May; clean water to cool us down in the heat of June; the love to warm up hearts in September; and fun missions to excite visitors in October.

The season markets will be held May 19 to 21, June 15 to 17, Sept. 14 to 16 and Oct. 19 to 21. Gwangtong Bridge is located near Jonggak Station, line No. 1, exit 5, and the Cheonggye Plaza is near Gwanghwamun Station, line No. 5, exit 5.

BY YOON SO-YEON [yoon.soyeon@joongang.co.kr]