gA visit to a traditional Korean market
Market meets art in Gwangju’s Daein Art Market
[Photo courtesy of Gwangju Cultural Foundation]
Since it opened in 1976, Daein Market in Gwangju has been the one of largest traditional markets in the Jeollanam-do Province with around 335 stores in business. The market began to decline when the provincial government of Jeollanam-do and the bus terminal relocated to another city. In 2009, the market was revitalized with the arrival of artists. Reborn as an art market, Daein is now a harmonious space of communication shared by shopkeepers and artists.
Thanks to their efforts, it is now common to see people with a camera looking at a map and strolling around the alleys. The map shows both the location of artists’ workshops and the location of major stores. Now an essential item for market tour, the map can be obtained at Minari Book Café which is located in the heart of the market. Grab a map and browse inside the small alleys. You will soon be immersed in the joy of meeting people, seeing, eating, feeling, and enjoying all the things this market has to offer.
[Photo courtesy of Gwangju Cultural Foundation]
The alleys of Daein Art Market are decorated with diverse and interesting murals that not only brought life to the market but also turned vacant homes turned into artist spaces.
The painting of a handcart being drawn is especially unique, and the one depicting a bunch of dried yellow corvina with a fly is so realistic that the corvina almost looks like real fish. The one showing weightlifter Jang Mi-ran lifting a roll-up shop gate instead of a barbell reflects the originality and brilliance of the artist. There are also many cultural and artistic spaces in the market and one of them is The Art Café located in the Hoe Center Street (street of raw fish). This café is run by a professional photographer and occasionally hosts photo exhibitions. The handicraft shop Atti Salon sells various handmade craftworks and the shop MaeHwaJeom offers visitors a chance to experience artistic creation using wood.
Daein Art Night Market, a festival to delight the five senses
Daein Art Night Market first started in 2010 and has been held regularly since. The dates are from June to October, on the fourth Friday and Saturday of every month, opening at 7.30pm and closing at midnight. There are art exhibits from artists residing in the market and patrons can purchase these unique works of art. At the neutinamusup (zelkova forest) in the center of the market, citizens can also sell hand-made products, food, or second-hand goods. Market-goers can browse the crafts and artworks, sample the good food, experience the fine arts, and take part in various cultural programs.
The Han Pyeong Gallery offers artists an exhibition space for them to engage themselves in creative work and hold exhibitions at no charge. In the market, there are a number of guerilla performances with no genre limitations so one will hear songs, music performances, and theatrical plays, all of which add to the mystery and enticement. The night market is like a small festival in the city that appeals to all the five senses.
Jangteo Guksu (Market noodles)
A famous destination in Daein Market is the 1,000-won Jangteo Guksu restaurant. As the name suggests (jangteo means market; guksu means noodle), it serves inexpensive noodle dishes that are simple and delicious, hence the popularity. The jangteo guksu (noodle in hot broth) is just 1,000 won, bibim guksu (noodles with hot and spicy chili sauce) is 2,000 won, and pajeon (scallion pancake) is just 2,000 won. The pancake is made upon order for the ultimate crispness. So, after enjoying the market ambiance, the murals, and other artworks, why not enjoy a tummy-warming bowl of noodles?
* Jangteo Guksu Restaurant: 310-14 Daein-dong, Dong-gu, Gwangju (inside Daein Art Market) / No telephone number available
Another place where you can have a good meal for just 1,000 won is at the Hae Tteuneun Sikdang (Restaurant of the Rising Sun), where you can get a baekban consisting of rice, three side dishes, and doenjang soup for the price of 1,000 won! Enjoy the unique experience of having a simple, healthy meal for 1,000 won at Daein Art Market.
* Hae Tteuneun Sikdang: +82-62-227-7073 (Korean)
By train: Seoul Yongsan station → Gwangju station: Visit http://www.korail.com/ (Korean, English) to make a reservation or check train departure times → Get off at Gwangju station and take a taxi to Daein Art Market (It takes 5 to 10 minutes)
By express bus: Seoul Central City Terminal (Honamseon Line) → Gwangju Bus Terminal (first bus 05:30, last bus 01:00 / 3.5 hours / Fare: 16,900 to 27,500 won ) → At the taxi station in front of the bus terminal, take a taxi to Daein Art Market (It takes 15 minutes)
*Gwangju City Hall: http://www.gwangju.go.kr (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
*Gwangju Culture & Tourism: http://utour.gwangju.go.kr (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
*Gwangju General Tourist Information Center /
82-62-233-9370(Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese) / Hours: 09:00-18:00
Daein Art Market in Gwangju
☞ Address: 310-9, Daein-dong, Dong-gu, Gwangju
☞ Hours of operation: 06:00–20:00 (opening hours per store may vary)
☞ Major items sold: Meat, vegetables, seafood, nuts, laver, dak-gangjeong (fried sweet and crispy chicken), dumplings, soondae, gimbap, tteok
☞ Korea Travel Hotline: +82-2-1330 (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)