Dongdaemun is the big night market in Seoul. This is where the clothes boutiques in the city go and shop for supplies, but even though some of the malls are strictly wholesale, there are plenty of opportunities for retail customers like you and me to go shopaholic crazy too.
Back in the days, the night market was centered around Dongdaemun Stadium, which functioned as a giant flea market lined with food stalls. The Stadium was demolished in 2008 and replaced by a sleek open space including a lawn covered in white LED-roses and a design gallery. The park also has a good selection of food trucks selling all sorts of (fashionable, of course) snacks, so this is the place to go to grab a bite in between the mall hauls.
Doota, Hello apM and Migliore are located side by side. These Malls have been around forever, and they’re a good place to start your shopping. They cater to individual consumers as opposed to the wholesale-only malls on the other side of the park, and there are no requirements of minimum purchases.
Among the 3, or, in fact, among all the malls in Dongdaemun, Doota is my favorite. This is the place to go if you’re looking for stylish clothes from some of Korea’s more established designers. It’s not cheap, but rest assured that you’ll be wearing the latest and hippest Seoul has to offer. Hello apM and Migliore are cheaper and have a solid fan base among the younger crowds. There’s always a lot of things going on in front of the 3 malls, with K-Pop performances and different events every night.
On the other side of the park, most of the malls are wholesale only. In Dongdaemun language, this means that you’ll need to buy 3 or more items to get the wholesale price, or even be allowed to make a purchase. Some stores will let you mix and match, while others require that you buy similar items. The clothes are cheaper than at Doota and Migliore, but it’s more difficult to navigate, and unless you have a friend with similar taste in clothes, the minimum purchase requirement can be quite a turn-off. Don’t expect that they will let you try the clothes on before buying, so bring a measuring tape to get an idea of whether the clothes will fit you.
Seoul is not as cheap as Bangkok or Beijing, but IMHO the Made in Korea-clothes tend to be more stylish and of better quality.
Most places around Dongdaemun accept credit cards, but my experience is that especially the wholesale places will offer you better discounts if you pay cash.
Doota, Hello apM and Migliore are all open during daytime. The wholesale malls open around 8pm and many of them stay open until 5am.