Fashion Tribe

Midnight shopping at Dongdaemun

September 29th, 2015
PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.comThe fashion forward find their way to Doota! one of the many multi-story "malls" that fill Seoul's Dongdaemun Market.

PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

The fashion forward shop find their way to Doota! one of the many multi-story "malls" that fill Seoul's Dongdaemun Market.

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:

Designer culture thrives at Doota! which they boast is on the "Fashion People To Do List."

Throughout Dongdaemun's malls, you can find high-quality, inexpensive clothing for about $20 to $60. Prices at Doota!@ tend to run in the low hundreds.

Throughout Dongdaemun's malls, you can find high-quality, inexpensive clothing for about $20 to $60. Prices at Doota! tend to run in the low hundreds.

Seoul style.

Seoul style.

One of the young shoppers at Dongdaemun, out after midnight.

One of the young shoppers at Dongdaemun, out after midnight.

Things that make you go hmmm: The Mocoloco boutique was slated to open shortly after I left Korea. Wonder if the name was Hawaii inspired?

Things that make you go hmmm: The Mocoloco boutique was slated to open shortly after I left Korea. Wonder if the name was Hawaii inspired?

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.

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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 nkam@staradvertiser.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

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