Lately Korea has been facing problems related to overall unstable economic situation both inside and outside. The utmost serious problem amongst all economic problems is ordinary people’s economy. To be more specific, it’s about the price of goods. Although many people say that our economy is getting better thanks to the biggest current account surplus and the low price-increase about 1%, there is the worst family budget problem. The family debt is gradually increasing, which is a burden to living expenses. University students are no exceptional to this problem. Though inflation rate is getting stable by degrees, the high price makes students have financial difficulties. The price of one cup of coffee is almost as expensive as one meal and it’s causing people more stress in lunch time. Then, where can we find the place where ordinary people including university students can enjoy one decent meal and a cup of coffee without worrying about price?
The answer is in Lunch Café located in the center of Seoul, Jong-ro at Tong-in Market. Recently, we can spot all kinds of interesting café including psychology cafés, doctor fish cafés and even pottery cafés. Lunch café is one of them. With 5,000 won, people can buy a brass coin and walk around Tong-in Market to make their own lunch box. I went to the Tong-in market where we could enjoy both warm atmosphere of the traditional market and high-quality foods. < Copyright © The Gachon Herald All rights reserved >
Tong-in market is located 600m away from Gyeong-bok-gung station, line 3. Originally Tong-in market was built by Japanese in 1941 as a public market and has been transformed into current state. Presently, Tong-in market is composed of a total of 75 stores, and especially many food markets and grocery stores are taking up the most part of the market. When we arrived there about 10 am, the market was filled with busy people cooking and preparing for their sales. Display of just-made Japchae and stir-fried spicy pork excited our senses.
Before lunch, around 11 am, there were only a few people so we could feel the peculiar composure of traditional market and feel warmth from merchants. As we were walking around the market, we visited Customer Satisfaction Center where we could buy brass coins and lunch box. Customer Satisfaction Center opens from Tuesday to Sunday, 11 am~4 pm (※Closed on Monday and every third Sunday of the month). Here, you can buy 10 grass coins at 5000 won. You usually can buy side dishes with 1~2 grass coins and buy rice and soup with 2 brass coins at café. You can use the brass coins only at the special stores that have a sign, ‘Lunch Café’. After the explanation, we bought some brass coins and explored grocery markets in earnest. Coming out of the Customer Satisfaction Center, I saw many couples, families with their children, and tourists making their own lunch box. There were also many foods such as Kimchi pancakes, tteok-rib, tteokbokki, and various kinds of Kimchi made by merchants with sincere endeavor. You can eat your lunch box at the café which is on the second floor of the Customer Satisfaction Center. At this café, you can get a discount for drinks if you pay with brass coins. Since Tong-in market is not big, you can take pictures of the market, walking around without any physical challenge.
Before we experiences Tong-in market, we thought every food with low price has low quality. But it turned out to be wrong. The qualities of foods were much better than we expected and merchants’ kindness was additional. However, one thing to point out is that there weren’t many grocery markets affiliated with lunch café so the menu was a little bit plain. But all the advantages covered minor flaws. To start with, you can go into the market through south and north gates.
If you go out through those gates, you can feel the beauty of tile-roofed houses. Also, if you visit Tong-in market, you can also visit Gyeong-bok gung, Insa-dong, Samcheong-dong, and Cheonggye Plaza which are located around the market. Sadly, university students’ culture life is limited to movie, billiards, café, and theater. In particular, musicals and plays are so expensive that students with low budget can’t enjoy them. Instead of luxury culture activities, how about visiting lunch box café in Tong-in market, pack your own lunch box, and take in many attractions around the market?