Monday, May 24, 2010

Late night shopping in Dongdamun

When I taught in Korea last year, one of my primary activities was shopping. Myeong-dung is the heart of the shopping district in Seoul catering not only to the effeminate girly, bordering on doll like Korean style, but also to some Western styles, if you are small enough to fit in the clothing. My favorite store in Myeongdong is Forever 21. It is an American store, but here it has four fabulous stories. What I love about Forever 21 is its low low prices. Of course the quality of the clothing generally runs abreast the price, but the clothing is often very fashionable.

This year, my first shopping spree didn't occur until five months into our time here. This may have transpired because of the distance we have to travel in order to go shopping, but my reasoning is that last year I worked with over ten girls. These girls loved to shop and loved to dress nice. My work environment was one in which, what you wore was not overlooked. On the flip side however, here at our new school, the only female teachers I work with are Korean staff, and it isn't that they don't matter, but generally we have different fashion anyways, so what I think is stylish and what they find attractive are seldomly the same. In turn, that means, I don't really care what I look like. The guys certainly don't notice if I am sporting a new headband, or found a new eyeshadow so shopping holds much less importance this year than last year. (What an argument for being the product of your environment)

However my male counterpart, the love of my life has been begging me for a shopping trip. I tried explaining to him that there wasn't much for him to enjoy, but I finally gave in last weekend. Another shopping area in Seoul is Dongdamun. However, Dongdamun is an entirely different shopping experience than Myeongdong; reason being that the great shopping is supposed to take place in the wee hours of the morning. And by wee hours, I am refering to the hours between midnight and three am. A group of us decided this three day weekend would be the perfect opportunity for such a shopping spree because that extra day to recuperate was entirely necessary. Commiting to shopping past midnight meant that we were committed to staying up all night as the subways stop running before midnight and don't start up again until 5:30am the next morning.

What we found, was an entirely surreal affair. It reminded me of tax free weekend back in the US. It was insane the number of people shopping at this hour, not to mention the number of parents with children. I am surprised we didn't see one sleepy tempertantrum. The shopping took place inside and outside. We were told that prices dropped considerably after midnight as that is when the wholesalers come, but I barely bought anything. I couldn't find these deals of which legend had told. Maybe we were in the wrong place which is entirely possible since there seemed to be endless amounts of shopping. But my main complaint was that nothing I was interested in purchasing was I allowed to sample. I could not try a stitch of clothing on. It seems to be policy in Korea that you buy directly off the hanger and just assume everything will fit perfectly. It is true, many of them have the same figures; bird like bones, long legs and no hips but with the introduction of fast food, curves are beginning to appear in this country. How is one truly to know if something is worth purchasing unless they can try it on. It is so frustrating. So I didn't buy anything. I couldn't be sure that anything I liked would fit.
These shorts are supposed to improve the curves on the average slender Korean woman.

I did purchase one thing last year that looked amazing on the hanger. I took it home, tried it on and I was the spitting image of Peter Pan. It was hideous. Had I been able to try it on, I would have known to also look for a tinkerbell costume, but as it was, I was left playing dress up rather than dressing nice. I wasn't going to make that mistake this year.

The shops began to close around 3am so because we still had a few hours to kill before the subway re-opened we went to a movie. Side note: Military time goes from 0:00 to 24:00. At this movie theater, our movie showed at 27:15. When I asked what that meant she told us that it was 3:15 am. Why would they complicate such a simple time scale? Who knows. Our movie (the new Robinhood) was over at 5:30 am, however we didn't arrive back in our beds until 8:30 am because the train going all the way to Youngmun, where we live, didn't come for about one hour. I was grateful for the warmth of the evening, but grumpy at having to wait for such an absurd amount of time.

All in all it was a fun evening. Now if only I could get my sleeping schedule back to normal!

Point and case as to why I didn't think Kyle would enjoy shopping. These shoes are men shoes. They are gold displayed on gold flooring.
Guy clothing in Korea is often very effeminate as well. With this shirt, you could even have a strange linx cat to wear on your shoulder in case the shirt wasn't girly enough.

Who wants some boxers that look like the 50,000 won bill?

Corndogs covered in frenchfries. Kyle bought one. And with his mouth full exclaimed "delich!"

Matching outfits are all the rage for couples in Korea. Want to show that you care? Wear the same outfit. So far, I haven't convinced Kyle ;)

Another example of the matching couple shirts.

Obviously not a Korean shopper. Koreans all look the same, and this fella stood out! By the sound of his speech, we are guessing Chinese.

I got in trouble for taking this photo. Maybe they knew that it didn't make since.

Another one that belongs on (Braised chicken, falls in love with sea scent) A truly odd chicken who falls head over heals for the scent of the sea. I can just imagine the chicken wandering the shores of the ocean wishing for just one tangible moment with the sea scent.

1 comment:

Smocha said...

Very funny and interesting . I love that shoulder cat! LOL