Business & Economy Science & Technology Education & Society Sports & Fashion Arts & Entertainment
Top Picks Back Numbers Search

Reproduction of Seoul Bazaar Opens in Tokyo

January 18, 2001
The entrance to Shibuya's Dongdaemun Market.

Korean culture has been attracting a lot of attention in Japan over the past few years. The smashing success of the Korean movie, Shuri, which was shown in Japan in January 2000; the increasing popularity of red peppers--an essential ingredient in Korean cooking--as a health food; and the fact that Japan and South Korea are jointly hosting the 2002 FIFA World Cup are just a few examples of the recent Japanese interest in things Korean. And in September 2000 a miniature version of a popular Korean marketplace opened in Tokyo's Shibuya area, whose jumble of department stores, boutiques, bars, and restaurants is known as a center of youth culture.

In South Korea, Dongdaemun Market is a vast bazaar of women's clothing and miscellaneous goods. The little Dongdaemun Market in Shibuya, located in the fashionable Shibuya Parco Quattro building, offers a selection of the latest products that changes on a weekly basis. The "freshness" of the product selection and low prices--T-shirts retail for about 500 yen (4.5 U.S. dollars at 110 yen to the dollar)--are the market's main selling points. Haggling is permitted, and the potential for discounts attracts not only young people but also housewives, mothers with children in tow, and middle-aged women who come to experience the ambience of a trip to Korea.

Seoul's Dongdaemun Market
Dongdaemun Market in Seoul is South Korea's largest apparel market, encompassing about 20,000 wholesalers and retailers of casual domestic-brand clothing. Dongdaemun Market also functions as an outlet for world brands and has come to attract young female customers not only from all over Korea but from Japan, too. The market stays open late, and bustles with life until well into the night. Because products based on the latest trends are shipped directly from the factory to the marketplace, the cycle of new products coming and going is fast. Over the past few years, Dongdaemun Market has become known as a starting point for Asian fashion trends.

Shibuya's Dongdaemun Market
The mini Dongdaemun Market located in the stylish young people's neighborhood of Shibuya could have been airlifted straight from Korea. The marketplace covers about 630 square meters (6,781 square feet) on the third and fourth floors of a fashion-dominated building. The shops are arranged in rows, with each of the 57 merchants occupying a small booth measuring about 5 square meters (54 square feet). To create an authentic Korean atmosphere, the shop names are written in Hangul (Korean script), and over half of the store employees either came from the original Dongdaemun Market in Seoul or are Korean students living in Japan.

The little Dongdaemun Market offers low-priced fashions and small miscellaneous items imported directly from Korea. Buyers can find not only T-shirts at rock-bottom prices, but also the latest styles of clothing for about half the going rate in Japan. For example, skirts cost from 2,900 yen (26 dollars) to 3,900 yen (35 dollars). Dongdaemun Market also carries a rich selection of popular leather goods. Fortunately for local shoppers, these items are sized to Japanese proportions.

Like shoppers at the original Dongdaemun Market in Seoul, visitors to Dongdaemun Market in Shibuya can bargain with the salespeople to get even better discounts. The sales clerks carry small terminals known as "discount machines" on straps around their necks, which they use to input negotiated prices immediately into the shop's price monitoring system. The terminals can instantly print price tags reflecting the newly negotiated price, so paying at the check-out is also a simple process. By making use of the simple Korean phrase "Kkakka-juseyo!" (Please give me a discount), any shopper can easily experience the pleasures of bargaining with salespeople at Dongdaemun Market.

Plans call for Dongdaemun Market to expand its offerings beyond apparel to include food and beverages, as well as music-related goods. Branches of the Korean marketplace will also be established in Osaka and Kyushu. In the future, Dongdaemun Market will likely function not only as a sales outlet for Korean goods, but also as a base for transmitting information about Korean culture.

Back to Main Index

Trends in JapanCopyright (c) 2001 Japan Information Network. Edited by Japan Echo Inc. based on domestic Japanese news sources. Articles presented here are offered for reference purposes and do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Japanese Government.