The Mart

Most of your daily staple foods will be closely available in one of the numerous marts, which are literally found on every corner in every neighborhood. These small neighborhood stores sell things such as; eggs, milk, produce, non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages, snacks, etc. Depending on the size of the store, more items will be available. Marts can be easily spotted and are often given English names such as Happy Mart, Green Mart, and Mountain Mart. Store owners will most likely not speak a word of English but will be very helpful if the effort is needed. Prices will always be displayed for you to see.

Outdoor Markets and Vegetable/Fruit Ladies

Outdoor markets are great places to buy fresh veggies, fruit, fish, and meats. They offer great value and a fun cultural experience to any newcomer to Korea. Prices are negotiable and it can be very entertaining to talk to some of the country people who come to the city to sell their wares. Much of the produce in Korea is seasonal and will show up at different times of the year.

Everything is displayed right in front of you so that you dont need to ask for it by name. However, it is good to know your Korean numbers to ask for prices and amounts, which are often not displayed.


There is a variety of major supermarkets offering a limited selection of western goods. The most popular big box stores in Korea are Lotte Mart, Big Mart, Home Plus and ?. There is at least one big supermarket in each neighborhood, within reasonable walking distance. Taxis line up in front of the store as well, for your convenience.

You can find products such as:

  • Cheese (Feta, Philadelphia, Mozarella)
  • Wine and Whiskey
  • Soup Cans
  • Coconut milk
  • Tortilla chips and Salsa
  • Salmon
  • Chicken breast
  • Ground Beef (*at exorbitant prices)
  • Western cosmetics, deodorant, western soaps and shampoo
  • Western laundry detergent
  • Feminine products

They also hold a good selection of other household items and cleaning products.

The big marts are a great way to diversify your diet and bring some of your western favorites to your kitchen.

Dollar Stores

Anything you will need to complete your household can be found at reasonable prices at one of the numerous Dollar stores located in all neighborhoods. The quality may not be the best; however anything should last for the duration of your stay. You can find anything from cooking utensils to furniture and electronics. Make your home your own without spending all of your hard-earned money.

Bonus stores*

In some major cities in Korea (Seoul, Busan, Deajon), Costco stores offer even more variety. A trip is worth taking a train on the weekend for those who dont live close enough. You will need a membership card to enter and purchase anything; however it is a good investment for a group of friends.

The following are available at Costco for reasonable prices:

  • Mozarella and Cheddar Cheese
  • Western style sandwich meat
  • Eggos
  • Pizza
  • Salmon
  • Reasonably priced beef
  • Pancake mix and syrup
  • Bacon
  • Macaroni and Cheese
  • Rye Bread
  • Western Cereals
  • Act 1 Popcorn
  • Etc.

Wal-Mart is accessible on American military bases in Korea. Only military personnel and their families can enter the base. If youre lucky enough to make a good friend who does not mind to pick up the occasional products for you, it can be a great way to satisfy your western cravings. You can find any product in the Wal-Mart store, which would be available in North-America.

Further Reading:
How To Shop Online In Korea

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