In the Spring I visited South Korea for two weeks. While I spent most of my time in Seoul, I also visited Busan for a few days. I loved everything about South Korea; the things I saw, tasted, and experienced were incredible! Throughout the year I will be doing a series of posts about my trip. Check out the full series under the tag Lea In Korea. Keep reading to learn about South Korea’s largest seafood market.
I loved everything about growing up by the ocean; from walking along the wharf watching the fishing boats dock to getting to buy the catch of the day from the small stand by the shore. As I walked up to Jagalchi Fish Market in Busan, I realized just how small town my experience back home was.
At the entrance to all the hustle and bustle, an elderly lady stood by a cart overflowing with different types of brown and green seaweed. She was excitedly shouting that her seaweed was the best, tastiest, and would make us stronger than Popeye the Sailor Man. Or she was expressing something similar to that, I don’t speak Korean, but her enthusiasm was contagious.
The volume of excitement was one of the first things I noticed. In a country where most people spoke softly, these vendors were bellowing with pride about their wares. As we started walking through the rows of tents, each seller joyfully pointed at their seafood. They had it all here; carefully dried fish snacks, tanks of eels and other creatures swimming about, and vendors gutting and cleaning their squid on the spot.
Everywhere I looked, something new caught my eye. There was a knife vendor sharpening blades on a spinning stone. I could see seawater splashing on the ground, spilled over from the tanks of fish. Colored umbrellas were keeping the heat off the tables casting red and yellow shadows. So many people wandered about the market’s organized chaos. Along the side, rows branched out of the main area into alleys filled with more seafood, root vegetables, and other wares.
With so many sea creatures in one area, I expected certain smells to be lingering, but the ocean breeze kept the air clean and fresh. Several tents were selling octopus swimming around in little tubs of seawater. I curiously watched them, seeing one daredevil feel around, find the edge, slip 1, 2, then 3 tentacles out, and there she went! She slid onto the pavement fast and furious, but not free for long. The merchant was so casual; he gently picked her up, shook his head, and plopped her back in the water. He never missed a beat.
There were many sea creatures I saw for sale that I didn’t realize were edible. One stall had shells I thought were decorative, but here they were sold fresh by the bag ready to cook. I was tempted to buy something to cook (who am I kidding, I mean Jean-Claude to cook). With our hostel lacking a kitchen, I settled on buying some dried blueberries. I came across a cart filled with dried fruits, berries, and fish. The lady was handing out samples of everything. I tried some fish, dried mango, and other sweet fruits, delicious! With so many samples in my hands, I couldn’t keep up. Luckily Jean-Claude was walking by, I quickly unloaded my free treats onto him, and dug out my wallet. She was so nice. We even got a sample of tea as we walked away. After a few hours, I took one last look over the ocean, enjoyed the cool wind, then we took the bus on to our next adventure.
Check out my video below for sights, sounds, and facts about South Korea’s largest seafood market.
When you visit Busan be sure to take the bus or metro over to Jagalchi Fish Market. Breathe in the ocean air, sample the seafood, and take in the sights. You can reach the market from both the Nampo and Jagalchi metro station.
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