Photography Spots in Korea – Series III – Korean Markets

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Korean Markets Gochu

The third in our series on Photography Spots in Korea, we have Colin Roohan from Tulsa, Oklahoma. He is a photographer, writer, and teacher who has been exploring the globe in search of creative inspiration. In this series we will follow him, through his pictures, in the traditional markets of Korea.

The markets of Korea are something of an anomaly to most westerners. The atmosphere is a boiling caldron of smells, sounds and sights that are just simply unmatched by anything found on the western hemisphere. The first time I walked through a market in Seoul I was completely engulfed in the chaos. I had never experienced a shopping trip so sensual in my entire life. Tub after tub full of unidentifiable vegetables and roots enhanced my curiosity. The vendors are incredibly friendly and typically love having you inspect their goods; poking, prodding, and tasting are all commonplace.

Two Korean food items that you will undoubtedly see in most markets are gochu peppers and Korean ginseng. Gochu peppers are a type of red chili that is indigenous to Korea, while not as spicy as red chilies found in Southeast Asia; the Korean gochu still carries a good amount of heat and is a staple in Korean cooking. Korean ginseng is said to be some of the finest on earth do to Korea’s climate and geographic location. Ginseng can be bought in several forms and is often given as gifts. With numerous health benefits ginseng is a true miracle food.

Unsurprisingly the best part of Korean markets is the food. The markets are typically operated by farmers and working class patrons and in my humble opinion the food that this group dines on defines what food is on the Korean Peninsula. Hot bowls of rice, steaming vegetables, and when meat is involved not an ounce of the animal goes to waste; everything is fresh and extremely savory.

My favorite markets in Seoul are: Gwangjang Market in Jongno-Gu, Shindang Market in Jung-Gu, and Noryangjin Fisheries Market (south of the Han River) in Dongjak-Gu. There are dozens more sprinkled throughout the city so be brave and explore without an ounce of trepidation.

About the author

Colin Roohan has been a serious photographer for roughly two years and enjoys every second of it. He has won several photography competitions around South Korea, which is his current home. Colin’s travels have taken him through the North America, Europe, South East Asia, Japan and South Korea. His images have appeared in magazines and newspapers throughout Seoul. Colin currently uses digital and film techniques to capture his images.

Through his blog – Colin Roohan Photography, he wishes to inspire creativity and ignite curiosity within its viewers. To follow his work, you can check his photostream on Flickr or like his page on Facebook.


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