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The Nambu Night Market and Chung-nyun (Youth) Mall

Jeonju Nambu Market is very close to the everyday lives of the locals. It is a traditional market whose history dates several hundred years back to the Joseon Dynasty. In Jeonju, there’s a saying that ‘no marriage unless you visit Nambu Market,’ which indicates that the market has everything that we use daily, including food, textile, furniture, and the like. The market also boasts eateries famous for local delicacies such as pisoondae gukbap (Korean blood sausage hotpot with rice) and kongnamul gukbap (bean sprouts hotpot with rice). The market energizes the city.

 

But did you know that Nambu Market transforms into a very different place in the evening? In this post, I will reveal what market has been up to every Friday and Saturday evening. During the day, the market may look similar to any other traditional markets, but after the sunset, the place makes the locals’ and visitors’ hearts beat faster.

 

Stop by the information desk first

If you’re new to the night market, make sure to stop by the information desk to pick up the guide. When I first visited, I almost got lost in the crowd. You can find the information desk at the north gate of the market, which is near Pungnammun Gate. The guide has detailed information on what to eat and enjoy at the market. The night market open from 17:00 to 22:00 during the winter season, and 18:00 to 24:00 during the summer season. Also, don’t forget that the night market venues only receive cash.

 

Food from all over the world!

As you step into the night market, you can already smell the variety of food. You will find things that are only sold here, including bibimbap ssambap (bibimbap wrapped in leaf), ice creams made from bokbunja (Korean black raspberry) wine and dark beer, chicken skewer with herbal medical sauce, and others. Walk around to choose your own appetizer, main, and desert!

Approaching the center of the night market, the atmosphere gets more international. There are Vietnamese, Uzbek, Philippine, Thai, French, Japanese, Russian, and other venues to satisfy your palate.

You will stumble upon exotic eats such as Turkish Kebab, Chinese lamb skewer, Uzbek samsa (meat pie), Philippine dumpling, and others. The food are not only reasonably priced, but also because these venues are mostly run by migrant women, they are very authentic.

 

Some of the venues have very long waiting line. I suggest buying something to eat from less crowded venues first so that you won’t feel hungry while waiting.

 

Things to watch and enjoy at the night market

If you visit the night market only to eat, you are missing out on things to watch and enjoy that are hidden between the eateries. Look carefully, and you will find display stands selling unique things such as aromatic plasters, impromptu photo studio without a name, home-made pet products, exotic Asian handcraft decorations and accessories, and many more. They certainly forced me to take out my purse.

Also, there are things to enjoy too. I stopped by the cheap road shop nail art, and caricature drawings. The caricature drawing was quite popular, probably because the drawings seemed very real. It must make a better souvenir of your visit to Jeonju than simply taking a photo, especially when you’re with your significant other.

Don’t miss out on things to see too! The night market is always accompanied by small concerts. From Korean traditional folk music to K-Pop singers, a variety of performances are staged. When I visited the night market, Korean trot singer Geumi was brightening up the atmosphere. Also, old animation films were being screed at the eastern entrance. Waiting in line must be less boring if you could watch Dooly (90s Korean animation).

 

‘Earn moderately, but live affluently’: Chung-nyun Mall

Chung-nyun (Youth) Mall is a notable attraction of Nambu Market. Located at the second floor of the market and comprised of thirty-three small but unique shops, Chung-nyun Mall is a market within a market.

 

At the mall, you will find small restaurants selling European, South American, Southeast Asian, and other exotic dishes. Also, there are board-game cafe, shop selling hand-made candles, and other venues overflowing with uniqueness.

Walking along the guiding posts, you can find funny quotes such as ‘earn moderately, but live affluently’ and ‘I may not buy you a Gucci bag, but I can buy you a jumoni (Korean traditional pouch).’ This is also a place filled with things that revive your childhood memories, such as old stationary shop junk foods and arcade games. The vibrant atmosphere of Chung-nyun Mall seems to draw people here. It must be almost romantic to have a drink in such an environment.

From April to October, on every Thursday evening of the fourth-week of the month, a concert with table talk is held in Chung-nyun Mall. A prize drawing also takes place, so you don’t want to miss this if your schedule allows.

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