It seems like yesterday that snowflakes were falling on the cement ground. Yet already, cherry blossoms have bloomed all over Korea. And with the beginning of spring opens the annual Bam-dokkaebi night market. Inaugurated in the spring of 2015 in Yeouido’s Han River Park, the Bam-dokkaebi night market has proven itself as a cultural and tourism powerhouse. Over the past few years, the Bam-dokkaebi night market has expanded to be held in six different venues all over South Korea. This year, the market is being held in Yeouido Han River Park, Banpo Han River Park, Dongdaemun Plaza, Cheonggyecheon, Oil Tank Culture Park, and Chonggye Plaza. Although the venues are spread apart across Seoul, all offer a variety of leisurely activities such as buying a meal from a food truck, buying accessories from a vendor, or listening to musicians performing in the heart of the venue.
|[Seoul Bam-Dokkaebi Night Market - Photo by Rachel Lee]|
I visited the Banpo night market with my family during its opening weekend. Each venue has a different theme, and the Banpo Han River Park market’s theme was “Romantic Moonlight Market.” Fitting to its name, most of the market’s visitors were couples on romantic dates. This isn’t to say that there weren’t groups of friends or families visiting to share a bonding experience. However, those in relationships overwhelmingly made up the customer demographic.
|[A couple purchases accessories from a vendor at the Banpo venue - Photo by Rachel Lee]|
However, I have to say that I was a bit disappointed by the market. As a first timer at the Bamdokkaebi festival, I had high expectations for it to be accommodative and enjoyable for all types of people. Nevertheless, my personal experience wasn’t the best as it could be. From the very moment my family and I arrived at the night market, it was difficult to find a parking space. I later found out through looking at the Bamdokkaebi website that “as parking space is limited, it is highly recommended that visitors use public transportation.” I felt that this accommodated to younger customers and couples but not to families and older customers.
|[A seemingly endless crowd waits in line in front of several food trucks - Photo by Rachel Lee]|
Additionally, the lines for the food trucks were far too long. The fact that there were a large number of food trucks in the venue would make you think that people would be able to spread out into medium-sized lines. However, almost every single truck had a line that folded into three sections. For example, I had to wait in line for nearly 25 minutes for the first food truck I stood in line fro. Even then, there were ten people in front of me. I ended up getting out of line and waited for another ten minutes in front of a different food truck for my food.
|[A food truck selling skewers of beef and lamb - Photo by Rachel Lee]|
I also felt that the market organizers should have created an area with tables and chairs. There were a few plastic chairs and tables but clearly not enough to cater to the number of customers coming to the festival. People had to eat on stone benches from the park because of the lack of proper seating. This proved to be extremely inconvenient for the elderly and large groups, who often had to sit on the floor.
|[People sit on stone benches to eat their food purchased from the food trucks
- Photo by Rachel Lee]
Overall, I wouldn’t recommend coming to the Bam-dokkaebi Night Market. It may seem fun to come to by looking at advertisements on Facebook and other social media, but it takes up far too much time to make up for what it gives in return. The only exception to my recommendation would be if you were going with your significant other. Otherwise, you’d be better off staying home or going to a conventional shopping center, such as malls like COEX and IFC, that provides proper seating and quick service.
Seoul International School
Rachel Lee firstname.lastname@example.org
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