One of my main highlights for this Seoul winter trip is to be able to visit the Free Market (프리마켓) at the Children’s playground near Hongik University (홍익대학교). It operates only on Saturday afternoons from 1300 to 1800 hours every March to November of the year. So I was lucky enough to attend the first Free Market of year 2011 (5 March 2011)! 🙂
According to the free pamphlet available at the Free Market, it is not a “flea market”. A flea market is mainly a place for garage sale or exchange of items but this Free Market is an artistic market where creativity unfolds. The street stalls outside the children’s playground (where the Free Market is located) has no relations to the Free Market. Oh & the Free Market’s 10th year anniversary is 2011, as it first started in June 2002.
When I arrived at Hongik University subway station, I must say that I was somewhat shocked to see so many people, mainly young people in their 20s I guess. I didn’t really have to walk, but I felt like I was being “shoved” towards the Free Market lol. Before going there, I had already done some homework on how to get there from the subway station, so it was a pretty easy road, especially when there’s so many people walking in the same direction, it’s quite easy to follow hehe.
Let me show you the directions to get there:
First, exit from Hongik University subway line no. 2 exit no. 9. You will see a KFC outlet and a Dongnam Mungo (bookshop, 동남문고) in front of this exit.
Walk straight, past the bookstore, for about 1 min or so (it’s a small lane) & you will arrive at this “Like to Walk Street” (걷고 싶은 거리). Turn right and continue straight ahead until you see Starbucks on the right of the street & a Tourist Information booth on the left of the street.
Then cross the street to the Tourist Information booth & continue straight straight ahead. I was quite surprised to see a Tourist Information booth right at the students’ area – Hongik vicinity. There wasn’t one many years back when I was a student! Haha shows that this place is gaining popularity as a tourist attraction 😉
You should be able to spot KB Bank (국민은행), frugio APT (푸르지오 아파트) along the road (white colour building) as you walk (do note that this road is an upward slope). Opposite the road is A Twosome Place cafe (see pic below).
Cross the road at the traffic junction nearby to A Twosome Place & you should be able to see Hongik University main entrance right in front. Turn right into the small lane (you will see a hot dog shop with the hot dog signboard), & you are entering the Free Market (yipee)! The whole walk should take you about 10 minutes.
As I approached the Free Market, I already started to get “enchanted” even to the street stalls outside the children’s playground hehe. There is this waffles stall that was always crowded with customers. When I finished my Free Market tour, it was still crowded though it was already 5+pm. I decided to join the queue as I was a bit hungry and yearned for some piping hot snack.
Guess how long I queued for this cream waffle that cost KRW 1,000 (approx. S$1.15)?
20 mins – that’s the time I took to queue for this waffle. 🙂 Actually they also serve ice cream waffle but I dare not try it as the weather was already chilly enough! haha
Now for the “real stuff” – the Free Market, what I actually went there for hehe. It was bustling with creative/ innovative stalls, caricature artists, an afternoon stage performance & also some filming going on.
The Free Market didn’t occupy a large area, as it was just a children’s playground type of space, but I spent more than 2 hours immersed in there with the arty feeling hee. I also couldn’t resist temptation & bought some personally calligraphed tags for family & friends & myself, as well as a very sweet handmade pouch to “reward” myself keke. In fact I also made a new Korean “friend” who is the calligraphy artist.
The next time I visit Seoul, I will want to come here again. It’s a wonderful place to hang out! 🙂