A Shopping Trip in Korea

Quite a while ago, when I first began my blog, I took my readers on a shopping trip to E-Mart, and everyone loved it, but I haven’t taken you to E-Mart for a while.  I know that when I go somewhere and take pictures along the way, my readers seem to really enjoy it. We have fallen into an every week schedule and go to E-Mart every Tuesday evening for dinner and then shopping, so I decided to take you with me this evening.  My daughter meets me at the food court at E-mart after her work on Tuesdays, and her husband meets us there, and he is always doing something different.  This afternoon, he was out at the bank before he came.  Today, I couldn’t keep my car in its regular parking lot and had to get up early this morning and move it out of the parking lot because they decided to repaint the lines in our parking lot today.  Koreans always fix things that don’t need fixed, and we didn’t need new lines, but everything has to look new and up to date in Korea, so they painted the parking lot.  I went out this morning and moved my car into the street, so I had to walk out to my car when it was time to go.

My car was parked outside of the parking lot on the street.

I drove down our small street to a main road and turned back left at the stop light. There was a little woman selling vegetables on the side of the road. Someone is always there selling something.  Seoul is divided up into neighborhoods that each has a different name,  I live in Bangwha dong close to Gimpo Airport.  If I wanted to go to Gimpo Airport, I would have turned right at the end of our road, but I went left toward Magok.  Magok is a fairly new area where there has been a lot of construction. There are a lot of new apartment buildings and stores in that area. I went by Magok dong.  The road I use used to be smaller, and a friend showed it to me once as a shortcut to Bangwha dong, but they redid it like they re do everything, and it became a busy highway.  I drove on in toward Seoul to Gayang dong. Gimpo Apirport, Bangwha dong, Magok dong, and Gayang dong are all part of Gangseu gu.,  Gangseu gu is the name of all of them as well as Hwagok dong and some other places collectively, but it is all Seoul. We go shopping at the big E-Mart in Gayang dong. If you look back at my blogs from this past week, I took you to E-Mart the day I had car trouble because it is across the street from my car service.

Inside of E-Mart’s Huge Parking Garage

Going from the parking garage into the main part of the store

The food court is huge, so there are two entrances.

We had a Burger King dinner.


E-Mart has a huge parking garage, and I parked my car in the parking garage.  I like to park on the third floor because the food court is on the third floor, and that is where I meet my daughter and son in law for dinner on Tuesdays. We usually get our food from Burger King because it is cheaper, because my daughter has to each Korean food everyday for lunch at work, and because my Korean son in law just loves hamburgers and french fries.  After we eat, we recycled our trash. You can’t just throw your trash away in Korea.  There is a special recycling place where you have to separate it to throw it away.

On the way to get a shopping cart, we went past a place where they were making homemade Korean donuts across from the pharmacy (in Korean,  pharmacy is Yakgook).
We found the shopping carts at the entrance from the 2nd floor parking garage.
Across the way from the shopping carts, there were people in very expensive massage, reclining chairs. These chairs are for sale, but people take advantage of them while they are shopping, I knew an American guy who always sat in one of these chairs while his wife shopped.  I don’t like them because they are tight on the calves of my legs. They even massage your legs.


To grocery shop, we had to go down another moving sidewalk to the first floor.

Next, we walked through the store to a moving sidewalk that went to the second floor, and we got our shopping cart on the second floor.  Next, we went on down another moving sidewalk to where the groceries are.

Snacks, and snack, and more snacks!  All kinds of unusual snacks! These were only a few of the snack aisles.

Here are a couple of usual examples of snacks. The green one is toasted french bread with garlic on it, and the second one is is the same thing only made spicy.  Everything must be spicy in Korea!

Soda pop and even another snack aisle.

Imports.  I got a close up of the Japanese style ramen and the Mexican salsa.  If you could see the salsa better, you would see that the only kind they sell is the spiciest. There is no mild salsa here.

We always go by the cookie and snack aisles first. Koreans sell great cookies.  Koreans have snacks galore!  They have all kind of unusual snacks.  Some of their snacks are good, and some you wonder why they even like them. After the snack aisle, there are candy aisles, and my Korean son in law is as big candy eater, so we always buy candy.  After that, we go to the aisle where the sell soda pop.  They have mostly what they sell in America with some strange additions because they are Korean or Japanese drinks. Across the way, we see imports for sale.  They import according to their taste, and if you want something that isn’t spicy, but there is a spicy option, they will sell the spicy option and not sell any other kind.

Small containers of either vanilla or green tea ice cream.  If you look at the bottom, those are huge plastic boxes of vanilla ice cream.

Next we pass beer and other alcoholic drinks, but we pass because we don’t drink and don’t know anything about them.  We come to the bakery where they sell all kinds of baked goods. E-Mart has a better bakery than the other large chain department stores.  We used to be able to buy Romanian style bread here, but lately, we haven’t seen it. We buy French bread.   Next, we go on to where the ice cream is, and they have some really unsual types of ice cream for sale. We really like the German ice cream they import, but we never buy it because it is too expensive.  We used to be able to find ice cream sandwhiches for a decent price, but they aren’t selling them anymore.   If we want just plain vanilla ice cream, we have to either buy a very tiny container or a container that is so big it won’t fit in our freezer unless we take everything else out.

Rice Cakes/ None of them have sugar in them.

Ready made rice in plastic bowls in the first picture and the others are ready made Korean meals. All you have to do is heat these things up.

Lots of sweet dry breakfast cereal

Next, we go by where they are selling rice cakes, and they have lots of different kinds, but they very rarely sell our favorite kind.  Next, we walk down another frozen aisle where they sell frozen guacamole, cheese cake, etc.  We en on on the other side where they have different kinds of ramyeon, the Korean style ramen noodles that are usually pretty spicy. On the next aisle over, they have precooked rice and other Korean meals that are precooked and lots of different kinds of cold cereal.  They have lots of sweet cereal, but I don’t  like sweet cereals.  I was buying a natural kind for a while called Hyun Mee that is similar to Bran Flakes, but they stopped selling it.  Lately, I have been eating oatmeal  They didn’t used to have oatmeal, but they have had it lately, but they don’t always have it.  As we walk past the next aisles, you can see the coffee and tea aisle, the canned goods and baby food aisle, and then the flour, spices, sugar, salt, tortillas, spaghetti, mayonnaise, and mixes aisle. We used to buy maple syrup down there, but they stopped selling it.

If you look on the orange juice, there is a statue on the label. When you see that statue, it is usually from Jeju Island, Korea’s Hawaii.
These are strange processes sea food packaged. If you eat gimbab, they use it in gimbab.  Gimbab is like sushi, but it doesn’t have raw fish.  They roll up these, scrabbled eggs, and yellow pickes in rice and put sea weed on the outside, and it is good.
This is a normal meat counter. E-Mart meat usually has a better selection and prices than other stores.  However, right now, there is no hamburger. Sometimes, we have trouble getting hamburger or it gets very expensive. Ground pork is much, much cheaper, so in some recipes, I substitute ground pork for hamburger like for spaghetti and meatballs or Mexican food.
It is expensive, so we never buy it, but lobster is available. I have only made lobster once in my life.
Here are huge shrimp or cray fish, again expensive. The only way I have every used this is in tempura, a Japanese dish.
They sell this fish in large bundles, but I have no idea what kind it is, so I usually ignore it.
I surely don’t know what to do with these.

We go across the way and walk by the juice.  We end up at a refrigerator section where there is butter, cheese, and a little salami. There are lots of kinds of milk.  If we turn right here, we could get yogurt, and then there is a soy sauce and cooking oil aisle, but we didn’t need any of those, so we just kept walking. Across from the yogurt are huge bags of rice, but we didn’t need rice. Also in that section is eggs, but we skipped it all. We just kept walking.  We didn’t need meat, but I took some pictures of the kinds of meat available for you to see what they have.

There is a huge fruits and vegetable section. They have most of what we have in America plus more. I have even seen Nigeria yams here.

Different kinds of seaweed for sale in the fruits and vegetable section

Other strange things available in the fruits and vegetable section/ The first picture has packaged pieces of wood and dried figs.  The second picture has—who knows what? I am lucky to know what a lot of the stuff they sell is.

In the first picture, Korea’s tangerines from Jesus Island.  Everyone eats these and gives them away to their friends. The second pictures are daicons, huge radishes used in soups or pickled to eat on the side of your food. The third picture is cherry tomatoes, another Korean favorite. When you expect them to give potato chips or something like that at a party, they may give you cherry tomatoes.

On the other side of the fruits and vegetables, you find little bitty dried fish for sale. They put these in soups. In Japan, these were on my breakfast plate, and I though they were noodles until I looked close and realized they had eyes.

In the first picture, it is dried seaweed for sale, and int he second, it is dried squid for sale.

They have a huge fruit and vegetable section. Any thing you could buy in any big grocery store in America is here. plus some things you would never see in America.  After that, we go by the place they sell all kinds of paper towels, tissues, and toilet paper. From what I understand, the businesses that sell these things are fairly new, but they really caught on big when they began selling these things because people really wanted and needed them. Next to that, you have the cleaning supplies, and then the beauty supplies, soaps, and shampoos.  There are several specialty sections for different kinds of makeup, and then we went up the walking sidewalk ab=gain to check out on the second floor.  They used to have checkout stands on the third floor, but they took them out.

We made it to the checkout stand.
We brought our own bags and bagged our own groceries. If we don’t bring bags, we have to buy bags from the lady at the cash register if we want any.  The way to say shopping bag in Korean is “punctul.”  At the very beginning when we got here, I had to learn this quickly because when I checked out, the women always asked me if I wanted a bag, and I had to learn what they were saying to me.  I had to learn how to count in Korean and then say “gay” after whatever number of bags I needed to tell them how many, and then say “jusayo” (please give). it was one of the first things I had to learn to say when I came to Korea because the ladies at the counters don’t speak English and don’t understand if you don’t speak Korean.
These machines are a recent addition to E-Mart. You have to scan your receipt and punch or license number in. or you will have to pay to get your car out of the parking garage.

After we check out, we have to go to a particular machine to let it read our recipe so we won’t have to pay for parking. If we didn’t spend enough, we have to pay for parking.  We take the elevator up to the third floor to go to our car.

Back to the parkin garage

We got in our car and drove home.  After we got home, I sat down and told you what we did so you see what a shopping trip is like in Korea.

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