( Preface ) electronics super-stores, with branches among largest cities in North America . it is the ultimate evidence of development in this technical society . then in smaller nations : where whole set of blocks act as THE whole-sale district .. possible especially in post-modern cultures of concentrated living in the Orient . if Life would have it : I could write a two-dozen volume encyclopedia on this subject but, have to do others for a living thus ..
( How it came to be ) as South Korea developed after the 1988 Seoul Olympics and thrust to become an IT information technology Power over the Millennium, these consumer havens seem like silicon oasis where amazing devices could be had at a price . but only the first in Techno-Mart (see below) was a success and bore wanna-be’s but even they, now soon after the influx of On-Line Shopping Malls : some portions are barren as you can tell from empty booth lots on inter-connecting floors, where some are lent as periodical general apparel sales outlets – this is the first hint when you enter a floor of a supposedly-electronics-dedicated mall .
thus the once-compact capital of Seoul, bordered on all sides with “Great Gates” translated literally as “DaeMun”, added after its location of North/South, East and West .. of which currently only the East Gate as in “DongDaeMun” stands at the 24-hour-open apparel whole-sale district : now is bordered by a hand-ful of mighty electronics-dedicated buildings introduced below . each briefly, for if I begin to /really/ get into it, there simply is NO end 😉
( Price-wise ) more-so, the myriad of stores in these buildings do not show prices up-front and a wondering traveler may fall easy prey . thus as mentioned many times over in my BLog, I advise visitors and expatriates to buy from electronics department of near-by supermarts, even though they carry much, much less variation in models .
[ Electronics Districts in the Capital of Seoul ]
in the Capital of Seoul there are 4 major Electronic Districts where most are stand-alone dedicated buildings . in which case the opening dates mentioned are when store lots are filled, taking anywhere from half to a year from construction date . named with the term “SangGa” in Korean, loosely translated into “Market” but there are 2 most used words meaning “Market” in Korea : “ShiJang” and “SangGa”, where the former means more of open market selling fresh fruits & fish, while the latter used to describe : concentration of indoor stores in a large building selling hardware varieties .
and in the 2nd City & major Port of Busan(Pusan) there are 3 computer-dedicated buildings plus another 2 areas for cameras,
all very small compared to Seoul .
the largest YongSan Electronics Market would be explained in a separate Page, while the others here would be explained from West-to-East clock-wise geographically :
TechoMart at SinDoRim newly opened December 2007 and taking off in May 2008 . a failed attempt to re-live the successful building of the original ‘TechnoMart’ (explained below) on the other side West, of the Capital . is not an electronics-specific building, but a marketing effort to lure consumers with a futuristic front image, while actually being a multi-store building . (versus the term “Department Store” in Korea, strikes a strong mode of high-fashion) but notable because ShinDoRim area is a major hub of Western Seoul where existing train station meet with subways, and the entrance to industrial and now digital production sectors of KuRo, and further into the satellite city of GwangMyung .
one local visitor’s blog with self-explanatory photos for your reference ≫LiNK≪
this the old West-end of the Capital of Seoul, across the Han River . originally a relatively poor area, but now filled with medium-income residence apartments .
open 10:30 am ~ 9 pm, food court & restaurants close at 10pm and eMart at midnight
closed every 2nd & 4th Tuesdays and National holidays
- 14th sports & golf center
- 11~13 CGV Prime movie theatre
- 10th floor restaurants
- 9th floor cell phones
- 7~8 computers
- 4~6 wedding, bookstore & stationary
- 2~3 electronics
- BF ~ 1st floors apparel & food courts
underground is eMart supermart and on top is CGV movie theatre
– Seoul Subway Line 1 or 2 both ShinDoRim Station Exit 2
Space 9 was intended as an electonics department store building, taking up the South-Western wing portion of the now-massive Yong San KTX Station, just one train station South of the historical Seoul Train Station also re-newed for KTX bullet train .
Yong San Train Station started operation well before the Korean War far back in 1900 and was renovated into an ultra-modern shopping complex, in time for beginning of the operation of belated South Korean bullet train KTX in April 2004 . but due to lack of popularity with merely half of store-space taken, it contemplated a rev-up in 2006 renaming to iPark Mall, and guess-what ? it was quite successful 😉
this massive structure is a conjuction of several buildings – hard to conceive which ends and starts where – but mostly divided into blocks by : (again from West-end clock-wise)
- iPark Mall Living Hall (furnitures)
- iPark Mall Digital Hall
- iPark Mall Culture Hall (Sports/Leisure, Musical instruments, BookStore)
- CGV Movie Theatre and iMAX
- iPark Mall Fashion Hall
- eMart SuperMart
and what interests us here is iPark Mall Digital Hall whose floors in turn are comprised of :
- 9F eSports Stadium
- 8F telecommunications (cell-phone) with SKT, KT and Apple Repair Centres
- 7F iConvention Wedding
- 5~6F computers
- 3~4F small electronics including digital cameras and camcorders
this is the West-end of old downtown SEOUL, just BEFORE crossing the Han River West-ward .
Subway Line 1 YongSan Station, or
parallel Subway Line 4 ShinYongSan Station Exit 4 and directly in front across the road .
it sells EVERYTHING, from clothes to your daily Korean foods and the most famous being the Ghost Market “DocKaeBi ShiJang” in Korean, where pirated items such as rations from the U.S. Base and European liquor were sold in ’60’s & ’70’s when imports were solidly blocked, as in illegal .
in the North-Western corner of this vast block, has been the major wholesale market for cameras in all of Korea, and two area within serve only digital cameras today :
- SoongRaeMoon Underground Market (does NOT mean illegal but merely that it is located on the BF floor beneath)
where tiny booths of independent consumer stores are cramped in a small area not even comprising the whole floor : everything camera-related from film to digital cameras AND accessories .
Seoul Subway Line 4: HwaeHyon Station Exit 5 and walk into the block North-East until you see them rebuilding the old South Gate(NamDaeMun)
open 10am~7pm except Sundays,
- Good-and-Good, former defunct SaeRoNa Department Store, is a newer camera store-gathered shopping building geared more towards the young, as the sales clerks are too, young trying to talk you into a buy no matter what .
while you are here smack.in the middle of downtown, it is a good chance to yonder a few more buildings East-ward, onto ShinSeGae Department Store (the oldest and now one of the 3 largest in Korea) consisting of its main building “Bon-Jeom” and their new wing “Shin-Gwan” . then across the street a bit to the left is (really) Seoul’s Central Post Office where you CAN get help in English . and on the left alley – known as Chinese alley from the old embassy, where anything Chinese could be bought – is where all Japanese magazines used to be sold before the influx of Internet shopping malls (some still there).
but behold, you are at the entrance to Myeong-Dong . the numero-uno shopping mecca of all Seoul ! always has been, and will be nomatter how many flashy monolith of shopping complexes open, so enjoy ~
Techno Mart in East end of Seoul distinguishable from the newer West end one by saying “KangByon” (riverside)
is a good example of a whole building dedicated to consumer electronics, where in other countries would conjure up a whole neighborhood of smaller buildings & shops . when opened in 1998 it was a grand success in part for most electronics are gathered downtown or West side of Seoul . (several building here-after are built and leased with this original ‘first’ electronics shopping-dedicated building as a model) but now depending upon the year there are bad seasons when vacant lots are rented to even clothing stores, mostly on the basement and underground level .
closed every 2nd & 4th week Tuesdays
open 10am~8pm (restaurants & theatre ~10pm)
- 9 floor for restaurants & movie theatre,
- 7~8 floors for Computers,
- 6 floor for CellPhones,
- 4~5 floors for Electronics Import,
- 2~3 floors for Domestic Electronics,
with LotteMart for groceries & daily appliances at underground level .
Subway Line 2 Exit 1 & 2 inter-connected underground .
right across the tall building on the other side of the subway station is East Seoul Bus Terminal “Dong-Seoul-Bus-Terminal” serving other cities in South-Eastern areas .
despite its grand official name on a mammoth building, it is a failure as only students seek the upper floors for a selection of game shops and scaled plastic model figures . but this is where the whole population on the South-Eastern half of Seoul come for games, mostly hand-held games . and interesting example of shopping buildings developed for electronics seeking consumers . surviving with most store-lots filled even in this lingering IMF market, for they have adapted to seek a niche market centering in on computer games AND toy figures, and as a result NOT widely known exactly because of this specialty market . so-much-so that I cannot recall what the other floors below were ..
located South of the Han River in the Southern end of KangNam, you might want to go further South 15 minutes drive to CostCo (OK, cool-down) for a round-up of missed groceries – explained further in Korea Expat BLog’s top menu Shopping Page .
Nambu Bus Terminal Subway Station Exit 3
closed every 1st & 3rd week Sundays
on the other side of the subway station via Exit 5 lies Seoul South Bus Terminal “Seoul-NamBu-Terminal” for express buses serving Southern cities outside of Seoul .
[ Rural Areas ]
in case you are no way near Metropolitan Capital areas the following branches would be the place to check out electronics (in ascending order of size):
- SamSung or LG Electronic Show Rooms where some double as Product Support Centers, limited to their brands but not on smaller items such as household items and mobile – good for trying-out because clerks seldom bother you
- Electronic Land “JeonJa Landu” branches where they deal various brands – great place to inquire about pro’s and con’s of competing manufacturers and different models,
- HiMart like Electronics Land above, although both NOT large but occupying whole mediocre buildings and carrying multiple electronics brands .
- SuperMarts like CostCo, HomePlus, eMart, LotteMart, HomeEver and MegaMart (in Busan) run by conglomerates – THE recommended place to buy anything including electronics although few, explained many-times over on this BLog . in South Korea super-marts are about the only place you can linger upon items (electronic or not) without continuous comment from vendors . and they won’t give you that nasty look if you don’t buy – an uncivilized trait stemming from the hard post-war days . their small-electronics corner is a great place to try electronic dictionaries one-by-one to your liking .
above is also in the order of price descending down-wards . the conglomerate show rooms charge retail price except during SALE, while the two independent vendors carry much discount BUT not rock-bottom as internet shopping malls, but super-marts sometimes compete with on-line shopping malls because they can in sheer volume, except they cannot carry a wide range of models because electronics is only a small portion of their massive business .
– Korea Tech Blog, January 2009 & updated August 2010 –