Grocery Stores in Korea – Best Supermarkets For Local Goods!
Eating out in Korea can be expensive, but shopping for groceries doesn’t have to be! In this article, I will share the best supermarkets and grocery stores in Korea that offer great deals on fresh produce, quality meats, and all kinds of other grocery items you need.
When I first come to Korea, the very first thing bother my mind is to where I can find the best grocery stores in Korea.
Grocery shopping will be our daily or at least weekly routine.
Having no knowledge about any supermarket or grocery stores in Korea can be a nightmare for any expat living in Korea!
Let’s not wasting anymore time and get into the list of the best supermarkets and grocery stores in Korea!
Table of Contents
Grocery Stores in Korea
For many Koreans, grocery shopping is a daily rituals.
They love to go to the grocery stores to find a new things that they might need for their daily lives.
While most of us might think grocery shopping is boring, this actually are also another fun part of living in Korea.
However, for foreigners who live in korea, grocery shopping can be a bit of a challenge.
The language barrier is often the biggest obstacle, but even if you can read Korean, figuring out where everything you need can be a puzzle and hustle.
That’s why we’ve put together this handy guide to help you navigate your way to Korean supermarket and grocery stores in Korea.
Here are some types of grocery stores you can find in Korea.
- Hypermarket – the largest chains in Korea, you can find anything you need, whether it is groceries, clothing or electronics.
- Local Mart – local stores that’s located all over the nations, local owned and less complete compare to Hypermarket.
- Convenience stores – the most common place for anybody who need something essentials, including food and beverages. (open 24 hours)
- Markets – traditional-style markets where you can find all the ingredients you need to cook at home. with a better prices.
Traditional Grocery Stores In Korea
The cheapest option to get all your groceries done is to go to a traditional market.
You can find at least two traditional market in every city and each traditional market has its own unique products.
The prices of food items here are way cheaper than others.
If you have no problem to be uncomfortable and wish to witness the Local Koreans daily life, then you visit traditional market.
Traditional markets are famous for it’s delicious Korean street food.
Here is the list of traditional markets you can find as you travel South Korea.
1. Noryangjin Market
Noryangjin is not a nicely organized farmers’ market.
It’s a lively, chaotic, and very wet fish market.
You can expect to get a good quality fish at a reasonable price.
2. Gwangjang Market
Gwangjang market is one of the best traditional markets in Seoul.
It is one of Korea’s largest traditional markets and is renowned for its quality silk goods, linen bedding and hand-made goods.
These days, the vintage clothing arcade in the market has become a very popular attraction among young people and wholesalers searching for unique vintage fashion.
This famous market is actually the oldest market in seoul with over 100 years of history.
The origin of the market can be traced back to the establishment of the Gwangjang Corporation in 1905 which was created with the purpose of reclaiming Korean sovereignty during the period of Japanese occupation.
At that time, traditional Korean markets were only temporary marketplaces that were periodically held every few days.
This market is definitely one of the must visit market in Seoul.
Make sure you also visit Yoonsun Cho’s Stalls that is famous for Gohyang Kalguksu at Gwangjang Market
3. Garak Market
Garak Fish Market or Garak-dong Agricultural Market is an extensive farmers fish market in the neighborhood of Garak-dong in Songpa-gu, Seoul.
This grocery stores is one of the other fish market option you can try in Seoul other than Noryangjin Market.
4. Jeju Dongmun Traditional Market
This is Jeju Island’s largest and oldest permanent grocery stores.
A street market, night market, traditional market, and seafood market are all combined in one place here, no doubt this one is really famous in Jeju.
5. Tongin Market
Tongin Market is a traditional market in Tongin-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul.
It is actually the smallest market in Seoul, established in 1941, originally catered for local needs.
Today it is home to around 75 stalls and shops such as sit-in restaurants, take-away street food and vendors of every-day goods.
6. Namdaemun Market
Namdaemun Market is a really large traditional market in Seoul, located next to Namdaemun, the “Great South Gate”.
7. Suwon Yeongdong Market (수원 영동시장)
Suwon Yeongdong Market are a famous market in Suwon.
This market is opened since 1917.
Vendors here specialized in traditional garments, including hanbok (traditional Korean clothes) and accessories.
The market was the largest market in the south of the metropolitan areas, so people from Suwon, Pyeongtaek, Hwaseong, and Osan frequently visited this grocery stores.
8. Gukje Market
Gukje Market is one of Korea’s largest markets that’s famous for it’s imported goods.
You cannot buy these foreign products from anywhere in the town.
It has 690 stalls of various items food, clothes, electronic goods, kitchen appliances, and much more!
Supermarkets in South Korea
Here are all the list of supermarket in South Korea you can visit.
E-mart is undoubtfully the most famous supermarkets and grocery stores in Korea.
First inaugurated in 1993, and since then it is giving a tough competition to the other brands of the market.
It is also the oldest supermarket chain among its two competitors, ”Lotte mart and home plus.”
This supermarket is actually a part of Shinsegae Group that sells almost everything, from groceries to gardening tools.
Shopping at E-mart is really convenient and comfortable as they have great customer service and provide many discounts and deals throughout the year.
Other than that, E-Mart offers one day delivery service for those who order over 50,000 KRW, you can even choose the time you want them to deliver it to your house (depends on the areas).
Since E-Mart is a part of Shinsegae reatail Group, they offers some discounts and points for their loyal Shinsegae member.
If you want to be one, then you can sign up for a Shinsegae membership to help you get points and extra discounts.
Credit to Konestagrammer
Homeplus is another major supermarket chain and grocery stores in Korea.
Make sure you always include homeplus in your list as it’s really the most complete supermarket you can find, it’s actually known as Korean walmart.
This brand was established back then in 1999 by Samsung and Tesco.
The original name was Samsung Tesco but changed over time.
Currently, it is the 2nd biggest retailer in South Korea.
This supermarket offers you their own membership program that you can easily sign up at their information desk.
While Homeplus might not have one day delivery program as E-mart, but Homeplus also offers you free delivery program for purchase more than 40,000 KRW.
3. Lotte Mart
Credit to Bc.gimpo.hangang
Lotte mart is the third best supermarkets and grocery stores in Korea.
This mart is also known as a discount store, Their motto is, “ Don’t be too shy about buying items here”.
More than that, Lotte mart also offers 8% tax refund for tourists.
As we know that Lotte is korean huge company with all kinds of business line from department store, theme park, hotel, and others.
They also sells various items from groceries, clothings, toys, electronics and much more, you can find everything easily here.
They also offers a lotte membership card you can get at the information desk. Find out how to use L.Points.
For Delivery, they provide domestic and international delivery at certain cost and place.
4. No Brand
No Brand is actually part of the Shinsegae Group just like E-mart.
This is E-mart pocket friendly brand.
Their vision is to provide high-quality products at affordable price.
No Brand chain is relatively new compared to the other, focusing on selling simple and daily products.
It is considered a smaller chain compare to other major supermarkets.
However, they provide complete essentials, from household products, groceries and even clothing.
Credit to Wikimedia
Costco is the famous US Supermarket chain. Costco has a total of 16 stores all over South Korea in which 9 of them are in Seoul.
It’s a wholesale store, means you can buy items in bulk at a really cheap prices.
However, only people with membership can enter the store, so make sure you sign up for Costco Membership first, it’s only cost about 33,000 KRW and can be used in any Costco worldwide.
6. Department Store
Credit to Yoonfilm_
Every Large Department Store Chain like Lotte, Shinsegae, Hyundai has it’s own food court areas and supermarkets.
While it might not be the greatest supermarkets, some of the product here are not available out there.
Credit to Pulse News Korea
Ikea is the world’s largest seller of furniture as we know it.
However, while it might not be the best for you who want to seek for groceries, It also offers some food items, like meatballs and kimchi bibimbap.
Other than being the largest furniture supermarkets in Korea, they also got specialties in bed linen, quilts, pillows, canopies, cushions and sleeping bags.
They will definitely help you meet your household needs as you stay in Korea.
Korean Convenience Stores
As we know Korea has thousands of small convenience stores nationwide.
These are actually small retail that sells various daily products from coffee, groceries, snacks food and some desserts.
In addition, convenience stores in Korea also sells alcohol and soju.
For your information, all of this retails also offers top-up T-money card service for public transportation and usually they have ATM machines, and post delivery.
However, they are a bit more pricey than most of large supermarkets.
Here are the list of convenience stores you can find.
GS 25 is the largest convenience store chains in Korea, you can find it almost everywhere.
In this shop, you can find many food items, vegetables, fruits and other ingredients.
Many Housewives in Korea buy ingredients from GS25 to cooked their food, while most students and workers get their snacks and immediate food to eat.
They also offers membership to get exclusive deals and discount.
CU is a 24 hours convenience store that is easy to locate because same like GS25, it has lots of branch in Korea.
It is owned by BGF retail.
7-Eleven is a Japanese American international chain of convenience stores.
In South Korea, 7-Eleven partnered up with Lotte, which means you can use your L.Point Lotte Membership in 7/11 convenience stores.
Ministop is part of the Japanese Group ÆON.
The first Ministop opened in Korea in 1990, it’s less popular compare to the other convenient store as it’s only have several stores all around South Korea.
It is open 24/7 and have an ATM machines.
Emart24 is a relatively new convenience store and also a part of the Shinsegae group, just like E-mart.
You can use your Shinsegae membership card in this convenience store.
Many of the product which you can buy in Emart24 are from the Emart warehouse. You can sign up Emart24 membership program here.
Korean Grocery Store Custom
While I believe we already have a knowledge of the custom and common etiquette of shopping in grocery stores, there are some difference to grocery shopping in Korea.
Here are some custom you need to know before you visit so you won’t have a cultural shock.
- Plastic bags: All of Supermarkets sand Grocery Stores in Korea charged for plastic bags, make sure you bring your own plastic bags if you don’t want to pay for it.
- Membership card: Most of supermarkets and grocery stores in korea offers membership card, this card is use to save points and get discount.
- Closing days: Most(not all) of supermarkets and Grocery Stores in Korea closed on 4th Sunday of the month.
- Delivery service: Most of Supermarkets and Grocery Stores in Korea can deliver your shopping bags to your house only after purchasing a certain amount (differ for each stores).
- Food courts: All of Supermarkets and grocery stores in Korea has a food court areas attached to it, so you can easily get your meal as you do your grocery shopping.
Korean supermarkets and grocery stores offer various products for your daily needs.
From fresh produce to specialty items, there are many different options available that will meet your needs as you stay in south Korea.
Whether you are looking for traditional Korean groceries or some other daily needs, these stores will really be a great help for you as long as you stay in Korea.
I wish this article give you some insight and information that will help you to find the one that fits your shopping needs!
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