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SEOUL 101: Yongsan Electronics Market

July 4, 2010

Okay to catch up on more back log. 2 weeks ago, on a Monday after school, Silvia and I headed to Yongsan Electronics Market. Her to get her phone and me to get my tape recorder. The best way to get cheap electronics in Seoul is typically through online shopping but because I am not familiar with Korean online transactions and have no money in my Korean bank account (yes, I am officially credit bankrupt), the next best thing is to do the whole touristy gig and head to the most famous electronics market in Seoul: Yongsan Electronics Market.

At the train station to Yongsan.

View from the train station 🙂

The beautiful sunset (:

Yongsan is to Seoul what Akihabara is to Tokyo, and is essentially 20 huge building with an expansive square area housing nearly 5000 electronic stores. It even houses its own train station! Obviously, because of the huge number of stalls, this means cutthroat competition. And as with every thing in Korea, it is run by a chaebol (Korean equivalent of zaibatsu). In this case, Hyundai runs it. Electronics in this area tend to be cheaper but if you are a foreigner, they tend to hike up the prices. Because I speak some half-past-six Korean, and am Chinese, people tend to think I’m Korean around here. Obviously Silvia, being Italian, does not look Korean so this really tested the integrity of the salespeople! All this deep analysis is in retrospect, haha – it might be all the coffee talking (I had 3 cups at dinner just cos they tasted so good!). I’m glad Silvia came along because she advised me to get the lithium-battery powered ones rather than those with refillable AA-batteries and strangely enough, lithium-powered ones are cheaper. And mine has been working pretty well thus far!

Emerging from the Yongsan train station

Korean architecture 🙂

The strange thing is that I went to this stall which had a very persistent and hardworking salesperson, who had sincere intentions of keeping the customer. He really tried to keep me at his stall and tried pushing down the prices for me by calling someone else (I think his boss). I already knew his stall was cheaper because another model of tape recorder I saw at the next stall was 240,000원 whereas his stall sold it at a mind-blowing 120,000원. In any case, he brought out this snazzy gold-and-black tape recorder called “Clickvoice Bible” and on top of a tape recorder, it comes with an AM/FM radio and…get this, a Bible. It cost 70,000 원. Good for the Christian me, but all the more amusing. I laughed when I saw that when you turn it off, the screen turns blue with white clouds and a gigantic “Amen!” appears. I guess God will be with me in my research, then, hahaha. It still amuses me to no end whenever I use it. Anyway, I persuaded him to let me take a look around before deciding and I went to the next stall and found the same model priced at 190,000원. I went back and bought the first, obviously. Geez, what huge discrepancies in prices – so if you shop here, be careful!

The only picture I have of inside Yongsan. Was too busy bargaining to take more pictures - yes, you can bargain here! 🙂 Anyway, there's no atmosphere for photo-taking here. Even at night there were hardly any customers and you had random salesperson touting, especially when they know you are a foreigner.

The amazing thing about Korean technology is all of their latest phones come equipped with a television! So, on board the trains, you would have tonnes of people deeply engrossed in the latest soccer game, scandal, breaking news on their phones. o.0 It’s really interesting. Okay, I have a huge file of other pictures stored away that I have to blog about but here’s just a quickie before I go to bed because I am bored to tears on a Sunday night/Monday morning. T_T

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