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Haggling tips for wholesale markets in Korea

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I’ve been to a lot of wholesale markets in Korea. And, even for a local like me, it can be intimidating. So, here are some pointers that should help you find the perfect item at a perfect price. And remember, this should be fun!

– Take time to look around and compare prices from at least 2-3 different places. You’ll be surprised at the difference in prices between venders. 
– Most stores/venders don’t have changing rooms, so make sure you really look over the clothing. (Note: You can quickly try something on over your shirt or short pants.)
– Business hours vary from store to store depending on the vendor’s plans and the weather.  
– Try to visit the market way before closing time. A lot of stores start closing 2-3 hours earlier than the regular closing time. 
– There are imitation products, so be cautious!
– Don’t take it personally when some vendors behave aggressively. They act the same whether you’re a foreigner or Korean. Some yell at people trying to take a picture of their products, while others only welcome retail vendors or shoppers buying items in bulk. Just shrug it off and move on.

How to haggle
At wholesale markets, a lot of products are sold at incredibly low prices. And on top of that, haggling is a part of the wholesale and traditional market culture. So, if you do it right, you can bring the prices even lower. Even if you don’t, it’s still a lot of fun! Here are some situations that are ideal for haggling! 

1. When a vendor tries to get your attention before you enter their store or attempts to sell you specific items, they more than likely are offering it to you at a “foreigner price.” In such cases, don’t hesitate to haggle. Show them you aren’t an easy person to rip off! 

2. While looking around a few stores, you’ll get a rough idea of pricing on specific products. If you think a vendor offers a higher price than others, try to haggle.

3. When you buy multiple items, especially in bulk from one store, it’s a perfect time to haggle.


Nampyeonghwa Market – Photos by NPM

Speakin’ Korean, Eolmayeyo?
1. Sentence (formal & conversational)

*Using “yo” makes a sentence formal. 
*Using “an” in front of verb and adjective makes a negative sentence.
“How much is it?”= Eolmayeyo? (얼마예요?)
“Please give to me / I’ll take it”= Juseyo (주세요)
“Please do it for me”= Hae-juseyo (해주세요)
“Please give me a discount”= Kkakka-juseyo (깎아주세요) 
“I’ll buy it” = Salgeyo (살게요)  
“I won’t buy it” = An-salgeyo (안 살게요) 
“Can I try on? (Only for clothes)” = Ib-eo bwado dweyo? (입어봐도 돼요?)
“Can I try on? (Only for shoes)” = Sinuh bwado dweyo? (신어봐도 돼요?) 

2. Vocabulary 
• Igeo (이거) = This
• Jeogeo (저거) = That
• Gachi (같이) = Together    
• Jogeum (조금) = A little bit

3. Prepositions
• Rang (랑) = And, with (or as with)
• Man (만) = Only 

Peaceful name
The name of many old wholesale markets is “Pyeonghwa.” It’s because they were built right after the Korean War. It shows how much South Koreans wished for the peaceful reunification of the peninsula at that time.
• Pyeonghwa (평화): Peace
• Tongil (통일): Reunification

Follow my lead
Don’t be afraid, it’ll be fun speaking Korean while shopping & haggling!

If you ask politely, the chance of getting a discount will increase. Say “Jogeum-man” to make a sentence more polite. 
“Can I get a little discount.” 
= Jogeum-man kkakka juseyo (조금만 깎아주세요)

If “kkakka” is hard to say, using the English word “discount” with “hae-juseyo” will work. 
Jogeum-man discount hae-juseyo (조금만 디스카운트 해주세요)


(Left) Shopping Complex – photo by Korea Tourism Organization, (Right) Dongpyeonghwa Fashion Town – photo by Hyemin Lee

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