Yangyang Traditional Market

Across Korea traditional markets are still a common feature. Taking place every five days in towns and even cities, the markets give a brief insight into an older part of Korea. For the most part these markets are straightforward occasions and possibly a bit like you could imagine in the so-called olden days, drawing in all the local populace for not only business but also social reasons.

Throughout you can see people meeting and doing business, while at the same time there is a good quantity of back slapping and hearty laughing by the stalls. There are rows and rows of people, mostly old women it has to be said, selling what is clearly the excess from their small gardens, and for them it seems to be as much a chance to get out and meet people, with the added benefit of actually making some money.

This is a K-Pop free zone. Not because of the age, but because of the distance it sits from the modern and vibrant image which K-Pop and Hallyu parades as Korean. There are no hanboks, palaces, models with plastic surgery, dramatic light shows, or indeed very many young people at all. Korea will be more like this, the majority of the population being between 30 and 50 years old, and this relatively young country will soon be an old one holding on to its past as much as its future pushes to break free.

These markets are not only rural occasions, as they function within every city, the most famous being Moran Market. Travel past the glitz of any main street and burried in its alleys and side streets this side of Korea persists, struggling against the tide fueled by a minority keen to present a new Korea to the world.

Talk will persist eternally about how to combine these two elements but one is always going to be a loser. I’m not trying to sound critical here, just to explain a reality which isn’t spoken of much. Too many distractions seem to occupy the imaginations of everyone invested in Korea with a voice, but still Korea carries on, some struggling, a few thriving, many taking what they can from the ride and hoping for the best in the end. It’s no denying what demographic the people thriving usually make up, and if you need it hint, it is rarely the vendors and patrons of places like Yangyang market.

Below is a selection of an extended set of photographs now available to view on flickr. Please click this link to see more!

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3 thoughts on “Yangyang Traditional Market

  1. This is a very well-written piece, and your photography gets more and more impressive all the time. In many ways it is possibly all for the best that such places will eventually become scarce and extinct as Korea moves farther away from its agrarian origins, but that just makes it all the more essential that we document them as they are now. (I live very close to a traditional market, and I make it a rule to only buy those things from Home Plus and Costco that I can’t get at the shijang.)

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  2. Somehow I think this will survive. Even in the U.S. especially in the south and mid west you will find farmer’s markets and second hand stores. Often you will find trucks parked in strip mall parking lots selling seasonal local crops. Small suburban communities are sponsoring farmer’s markets where local growers are not far away. Love the pictures BTW. The persimmons look gorgeous though different than the north american version from my childhood. We always waited until the first frost to pick them, it makes them sweet. Nice blog.

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