[Seoul] I was urged to visit Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale Market many times, because it is one of the most famous ‘attractions’ in Seoul, where you can experience the buzz of the market and fresh seafood.
Also known as Noryangjin Fish Market, the market was first opened in 1927, where it was located in downtown Seoul near Seoul station.
(Click PLAY for highlights of Noryangjin Fish Market. Viewer discretion advised if you are not inclined to watch Live Octopus Sashimi.)
It was then moved to the location beside the Han River in 1971, considered the largest and oldest seafood market in Korean spanning almost 6000 square metres in floor area.
When I visited, Noryangjin was in an awkward situation between the old and new.
A new building was actually built right next to the famed market, and vendors were told to move over, just a few steps away.
However, many complained about different issues, from increased rental prices, smaller stall space, lack of proper ventilation, restricted entryways, among others.
So while a percentage of vendors have moved over to the new building, there are some who stay in the older market, still protesting, despite the deadline.
For a traveller who does not speak Korean, coming here for the first time can be quite confusing (“intimidating” was what I read on TripAdvisor). Here are 10 things to take note of if you are visiting Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale Market:
1. Getting Here
To get there, take the train Noryangjin station, look for Exit 1 and walk under the bridge. The place is located right beside the 63 Building and the Han River.
2. Old vs New
When I last visited, the old market was still around. I would encourage you to visit both markets – they are massive so it should be hard to miss it.
The old was quiet, rustic yet charming. For photo enthusiast, you would like it much better here. The newer place lacked of character, I feel.
3. Operating Hours
The “High Class Fish Market” is opened for 24 Hours, while the General Fish Market starts about 1:30am to 10:00pm. At about 3:00am, there will be a live fish auction that can allow visitors to experience an authentic fish market buying and selling.
The market is the most crowded early in the morning from 4am to 6am, where it bustles with the auctions for the freshest first catch of the day.
The market is made up of close to 700 different stalls all offering the freshest catches of the day.
Every stall is different and sells its own unique array of seafood. The market is also huge and it may take some time to traverse the whole market.
As the environment is also a typical wet market environment, floors tend to be wet and the place in general will smell of raw seafood and fish. Please wear casual and the right type of non-slip foot-ware.
There is a wide variety of seafood items that you can buy from the market including all time favourites like king crabs, snow crabs, fresh fish, octopus, clams, and shrimp, as well as more novel items such as sea cucumber and sea snails.
7. Market First
Prices can range from upwards of 5000 Won (SGD$6.00) depending on the type of seafood that you purchase from the market. General retail prices are 10 to 20% higher than the auction prices, and you are likely to need to do price comparisons between stalls or some bargaining (Hard for tourists, I know).
8. Restaurant Next
After you get your fresh seafood, you can proceed on the numerous restaurants located upstairs of the market, which can help turn your purchases into a delicious meal.
9. What To Eat
Most seafood is usually steamed and served with a dipping sauce, but there are also a number of sashimi items.
10. Live Octopus aka San-nakji
Not for the faint-hearted. I did contemplate before deciding to eat one of these – live octopus sashimi “San-nakji” which would be cut up and served while the tentacles are still wriggling on the plate.
Take note: The octopus would be technically dead, but the tentacles still squirming – reflex actions from the nervous system, making it appear to be alive. It was DEAD.
As the suction cups on the arm pieces are still active, be careful when eating in order not to chock on them.
Some ways include coating down with sesame oil as that they would easier to slip down, or chew on them thoroughly, or mix with some rice or kimchi before swallowing.
Not my favourite thing, and nope, won’t have this again.
The market offers a unique experience where you can purchase fresh seafood and have it cooked immediately in front of you.
It is also considered tourist friendly, and stall holders are amicable towards tourists in spite of the language barrier.
(Thank you Daniel Gray from blog Seoul Eats for taking me on this personal tour around Noryangjin.)
Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale Market
674 Nodeul-ro, Noryangjin 1(il)-dong, Dongjak-gu, 서울특별시 South Korea
Tel: +82 2 2254 8000
Opening Hours: 24/7
Google Maps – Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale Market