Gwangjang Market

Seoul, South Korea

Gwangjang Market


Gwangjang Market, previously Dongdaemun Market, is a traditional street market in Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea. The market is one of the oldest and largest traditional markets in South Korea, with more than 5000 shops and 20,000 employees in an area of 42,000 square metres (450,000 square feet). Approximately 65,000 people visit the market each day.

The Gabo Reforms, which were introduced during the Joseon dynasty, eliminated the merchant monopolies that existed in Joseon at the time by allowing anyone to engage in commercial activities. The licensed merchants and shop owners in Seoul lost much of their business to competition as a result of these reforms, so King Gojong created a warehouse market called Changnaejang, which eventually developed into Namdaemun Market. After the signing of the Eulsa Treaty in 1905, when Korea was under Japanese colonial occupation, the Japanese took control of Namdaemun Market. In reaction to the seizure of Namdaemun Market, a group of private Korean investors, including wealthy merchants, decided to create a new market that was not under the control of the Japanese. They combined funds to create the Gwangjang Corporation on 5 July 1905, and purchased the land for the market with 100,000 Won. They used the pre-existing Bae O Gae Market (Korean: 배오개시장), a morning market in the area, as the foundation for their new market, which they named Dongdaemun Market (동대문시장). At the time, most markets were temporary and open only occasionally, so Dongdaemun Market became the first permanent market to be open every day of the week. The market was renamed Gwangjang Market in 1960.

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