Sampling Street Foods of Myeongdong
Myeongdong has come alive again. More vendors have set up shot on its streets, and visitors and tourists are lining up to get their tastes of different foods. We have captured street food offerings in Myeongdong.
A popular YouTube channel chronicling traditional cuisines and street foods around the world once featured offerings in Myeongdong. The video showed marinated and buttered lobsters on a grill, joined by huge pen shells on the other side. It also filmed whole squids getting grilled on an iron plate, and shot another vendor making a Korean holiday staple japchae, stir-fried glass noodle mixed with beef and vegetables. The video was uploaded in the pre-pandemic days three years ago, and garnered over 8.7 million views.

Myeongdong turns colorful in the evening.

Tourists Returning to Myeongdong
Myeongdong 8-gil, which is stretched out between Exit Nos. 6 and 7 out of Myeongdong Station on Subway Line 4, is better known as ‘Myeongdong Joongangno (Central Street).’ It’s the main street of the neighborhood, connecting Myeongdong Station and Euljiro 1(il)-ga Station. And Myeongdong Joongangno and UNESCO Road are dotted with street vendors. Some sell accessories and bags, but most of them sell foods. As of November 2022, there were about 100 registered street shops in Myeongdong.

Sticky rice cakes with fruit fillings are popular snacks.

Korean-style chicken and japchae are favorites among foreign tourists.

For the past couple of years during the pandemic, Korea drew very few international tourists, though online activities soared rapidly. The Korean pop culture, in the forms of films, music, or series featured on global streaming services, has firmly established itself on the international stage.
The worldwide popularity of the Korean culture began to manifest itself at the end of last year, when travel restrictions were lifted. According to a Korea Tourism Organization survey from the beginning of this year, the number of foreign tourists to Korea jumped 18 times compared to the same period a year ago.

In Myeongdong, you can even grab grilled lobsters on streets.

Vendors Lighting Up Streets
Street vendors on Myeongdong Joongangno start setting up shop around 4 p.m. There are several vendors who are out there earlier in the day, but most of them start preparing their foods at around 4 in the afternoon. They spread out their offerings on their stands.

Egg bread is the warm, nutritious snack for evening hours.

It’s absolutely stunning just how many different types of food you can sample in this neighborhood. Fish cake bars, tteokbokki-fish cake combo, spiral potatoes, takoyaki, crepe with Nutella and fruits and charcoal-grilled chicken skewers are some of the basic offerings. There are some you likely won’t find anywhere else: bungeoppang (Korean fish-shaped pastry) filled with red bean, cream cheese and pizza-flavored fillings, handmade churros, sipwonppang filled with cheese, and honey bungeo topped with ice cream and honey. You will even find fried jumbo shrimp, kimchi-wrapped samgyeopsal and grilled lobster, offerings that seem a bit out of place on these streets. Halal-style kebab and skewers are also available for Muslim tourists. As we walked along these streets out of Myeongdong Station, we started counting the types of foods on hand there. We lost count at 50. Going out to Myeongdong in the evening is like dining at an outdoor buffet.

Fried shrimp



Streets Full of Tourists at Night
International visitors forming long queues to get a taste of Korean desserts must have first seen them in travel videos or Korean films. The recent wave of K-food has put dakgangjeong (Korean sweet crispy fried chicken), tteokbokki and japchae on the global cuisine map. On our visit, the japchae vendor was in the midst of a particularly busy evening. Shine muscat and strawberries, among other fruits, in plastic cups were getting snatched up pretty quickly, too.

Sticky rice cake with strawberry

Kimchi-wrapped samgyeopsal

Tourists engrossed in ppopgi

Tourists walking on streets with street food in one hand

The popularity of the drama series has done wonders to dalgona candy (crackly, honeycomb-like snack). You will run into some serious ‘ppopgi’ players on these streets, crouched down and trying to melt the candy with saliva. And you will also hear many different languages spoken by people holding skewers or cups full of foods, be it Japanese, English, Chinese, Spanish and those spoken in Southeast Asia.
Street foods have not been immune to inflation, though. Since they mostly target foreign tourists, rather than locals, the prices tend to be a bit high regardless of inflation. On average, chicken skewers or fish cake bars go for at least 5,000 won each. Grilled lobster is almost 20,000won. Still, even on a weekday evening, it’s not hard to see long queues all over Myeongdong.

Where to Stay in Seoul: LOTTE HOTEL SEOUL
LOTTE HOTEL SEOUL, located in Sogong-dong, is Korea’s finest luxury business hotel. Four interior design companies worked on 1,015 guest rooms, giving them unique looks that reflect the latest architectural trends.
Its prime location, with Myeongdong, Euljiro, Cheonggyecheon and other landmarks nearby, will satisfy business travelers and tourists alike. The hotel also serves as the perfect setting for family gatherings, luxury wedding ceremonies and major international conferences, and has hosted guests of the state and other luminaries.

Address 30 Euljiro, Jung-gu, Seoul
Inquiry +82-2-771-1000
May 2023 Editor:Lee Hyunjung
Photographer:Kim Zun

Where to stay?

  • May 2023
  • Editor: Lee Hyunjung
  • Photographer: Kim Zun
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