Jagalchi Market, located on the shoreside road in Busan's Jung-gu, is Korea's largest seafood market, selling both live and dried fish. After the Korean War the market solidified itself as a fish market. Most of the people who sell fish are women, so the vendors here are called Jagalchi Ajumma, "ajumma" meaning middle-aged or married woman in Korean. (Reference: VisitKorea website)
The market has an annual Jalgachi Cultural Festival in October, where there are additional events and programs, giving the market a boost in publicity and crowd . But since Jalgachi is so easily accessible by subway, you will find the place filled with locals and tourists even during the winter season.
Jalgachi market is Korea's largest fish market, spanning between 2 subway stations.
1. Getting There
Take Busan subway Line 1 to Jalgachi Market, exit 10.
You will find yourself close to one end of Jalgachi Market. Turn right to continue exploring the older part of Jalgachi Market, including the street food "restaurants" (tents) where you can select and have the owner cook up a seafood meal for you.
Turn left and you will find yourself walking towards the newer part of Jalgachi market- a seven storey building selling live and dried seafood with numerous restaurants.
2. Area Information
3. Moving Around
The main entrance leads directly to the 7 storey Jalgachi market building. This however, is not the closest entrance from the subway station. Using the above map as reference, we recommend you start from the NH Bank entrance, check out some of the street tents along the green arrow, the walk towards the 7 storey Jalgachi market. This is Korea's largest fish market, visited by locals, so do expect the are to be wet , and do not expect to finish not expect to finish exploring the area within an hour.
If you hate getting wet feet in a wet market/ or the smell of raw fish, go during winter. The smell of raw seafood not noticeable, and you get less water drips from the "livestock" at the counter.
There are lots to see: seafood are not new, but the sheer variety and size will wow you.
Check out the size of the squid- It is almost as large as a toddler!
I have been to Jalgachi market about 4 times. I think I only see squid of such size during winter seasons. Check out the size of octopus too. They are live octopus on sale and those in the pictures are- erm- RIP.
During one lucky summer, I got a glimpse of puffer fish on sale. The stall owner looks somewhat grouchy though, so I only managed to steal a quick snapshot. (i not very good photo quality-unfortunately).Shellfishes are aplenty in Jalgachi. I think the size of the shellfishes during winter is bigger too- about the size of a hamburger.
If you do not need to buy so many shell fishes at one go, there is always the small basket of seafood assortments, which is probably good for those who just wish to whip up a meal for one or two pax, or simply mix it into your ramen.
You can also get your seafood side dishes from the street stalls. Most are selling marinated (raw) crabs, I think:
I have tried the chilli version before- extremely sweet, even with the chilli bean paste, and lightly springy in texture. I just don't think my tummy is trained for raw food, so I did not try the soy sauce type. But if your appetite is raw food resistant, you should seriously try this side dish.
You can also see a few stalls on the street selling dried products such as dried seaweed and fishes. In winter, those that are hung at fresh fish seafood stall though, are more like dried fishes in winter.
At Jalgachi market, you will see alot more ajummas (senior woman) then ajushis (senior men) tending to the stall. Perhaps the men are fishing. To me, these locals form just as important part of the Jalgachi market. In winter, your heart reaches out to these senior folks battling the cold. With so many stalls in one place, there is probably alot of rivalry, but yet, they have found a way to co-exists and made this place one of Korea's most well-known attraction. What strikes you is how diligently they have lived their lives and yet how unassuming they were in their day to day craft.
3. Suggested Itinerary at Jalgachi
Here's an estimated time needed to cover this area:
Street stalls n view of the sea : 1 hour
Eat at street tents/restaurants:- 1 hour
7 Storey Market:- live and dried food sections - 1 hour
Lotte World 2- rooftop - half to an hour
4. Meal Options
If you are staying at accomodations along Line 1 subway, you should drop by Jalgachi market for a few lunch or dinner options. Make sure you spend time to visit the Lotte world too, on a clear bright day, or during sunset. You will not regret it. If you would rather have non-seafood options, you can drop by to BIFF square/Bupyeong/Gukje market. check out the blog using the link below.
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