September 29th, 2015
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA — Say what you will about United States consumer culture. Koreans have us beat. Only at Christmas do American stores close at midnight. In the heart of Seoul, you can head to Dongdaemun where the shopping district comes alive from 8 to 10 p.m. when other stores close, and you can shop 'til you drop at 5 a.m.
Lacking that sort of inborn stamina, I only lasted until 1:30 a.m., when I felt delirious eyeing floor after floor, stall after stall of all manner of apparel and accessories, when all I wanted was one thing: shoes. Because of my Cinderella feet, I can never find shoes that fit me, hence the all-occasion rubbah slippah, but I had high hopes of finding the sporty "ugly shoes" I have wanted for months.
Here's a quick look:
I saw many street vendors upon exiting the subway, but friends assured I would be able to find "more, better and cheaper" at Dongdaemun's many towering vertical malls. By the numbers, it was like searching for needles in a haystack. As South Korea’s largest wholesale and retail shopping district, Dongdaemun is home to 26 shopping malls, 30,000 speciality shops, and 50,000 manufacturers. It's also known for its night market, but I missed that because it closed at midnight while I was searching the malls.
Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage is in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.