At Jeil Market, pots, pans, squid jerky, the world
May 21, 2014
UIJEONGBU -- Everything from apples and blankets to squid jerky and visors can be found under one "roof" at Uijeongbu's Jeil Market.
Shortly after I arrived at Camp Red Cloud this spring I started taking walks through my new town. On my second journey I stumbled across a veritable feast for the senses -- Uijeongbu's Jeil, or "First" Market. It consists of a farmer's market, push-cart eateries, general store and parking garage.
Since the market is a short seven-minute walk east of the Uijeongbu train station a car isn't needed to get there, but if you have one, the garage is convenient if you want to stock up.
And stock up you can at the four-block market, which is actually contained in and between four buildings that house numerous shops and alley stalls.
The shops and stalls, which are two blocks from Uijeongbu's pedestrian mall, or Hangbokro, are packed with just about anything you need.
In one of the many shops that's stacked to the ceiling with pillows, linen and comforters, I bought a pillow shaped like a bug to prop my feet on.
Need plates, pots or knives? This market has them and more.
At the farmer's market section, I found fruits and vegetables much fresher and cheaper than those in Korean chain grocery stores. My last trip to the market I got some cherries and grapes that were as good as any I have ever had.
Walk north and you hit the seafood section. The "freshness" of your fish depends on which stall you go to. Some have live fish you can cook at home. Others have a big variety already killed.
And there's dried seafood -- fish, octopus and shrimp. I recommend the squid jerky. It's good and tastes nothing like chicken.
If you can't wait until you get home to eat, there is plenty of prepared food at the market. I found a new favorite of mine at the western entrance to the market -- a corn dog wrapped with French fries and then deep fried. Corn dog and French fries in one bite, I don't know why we don't have these in America. If you're unable to get to Uijeongbu's Jeil Market, I suggest you check in the town outside your installation for a traditional market.
They're a great place to get lost for the day, take some memorable pictures, and be immersed in Korea's food and culture while your military service affords you the chance.