A taste of South Korea: Street markets that sizzle with flavour for incentive market

Many incentive trips to South Korea include a couple of hours strolling down a street market which sell everything from fruit, vegetables, clothing, handicrafts, traditional medicines to the latest KPop paraphernalia.

The Korean word for traditional street markets is jaerae sijang or food stalls (pojangmacha), which means ‘covered wagon’ that sell traditional Korean street food.

Favourite dishes include dakgangjeong (fried chicken pieces coated in a sweet-and-sour sauce). For those with a more adventurous palette, there’s Korean sausage, five-coloured and steamed dumplings, gukwappang (flower-shaped pastry with a red bean filling), meat dumplings, gonggalppang (crispy bread hollowed out with a stuffing of seasoned pork skin).

Sinpo Market is one of the oldest in South Korea, believed to have started up more than a century ago. The market opened circa 1895, marking the arrival of Chinese farmers selling produce such as onions, carrots, tomatoes and cabbage.

Seongdong market is the largest traditional market in Gyeongju, north Gyeongsang province. In side streets that line the market are many restaurants, noted for the famous South Korean barbecue. The dishes are often prepared on gas or charcoal grills built into the dining table itself.

Bulgogi is the most popular variety of Korean barbecue. Before cooking, the meat is marinated with a mixture of soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, garlic and pepper.

The Korean Tourism Board has been quick to see the benefits of offering street markets to travellers. The Agency for Traditional Market Administration (ATMA) was set up to improve the condition of the country’s traditional markets with the goal of developing them into tourist attractions which were also beneficial to the local economy.

Jung Suk-young, ATMA’s director-general of Agency for Traditional Market Administration said in a Korean Times interview: “The core reason for travelling is to see and experience a different culture. I believe no other places are better than traditional market to see real face of the country.”