Online and offline buying in Seoul

Buying groceries

In general, one of the cheapest retailers with a wide variety of products is Homeplus. I discovered it late, but since then I bought all my groceries there. It’s my recommendation to go there and fill your bag, but you have to take the metro to the Wolgok station (one station from Korea University).

If you search for small markets close to the KU, Daiso and another market are a few metres in the south. The prices are also very low compared to the department stores I’m going to talk in the next subchapters.

Case: Lotte department store at the Cheongnyangni station

I don’t recommend regular buying at the Lotte deparment store (at least if you’re price-sensitive), but if you care only about a broad variety (just like at Homeplus) Lotte offers everything you need.

Lotte department store at the Cheongnyangni station
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But to be honest, the department store isn’t that exciting – in contrast to the other facilities of Lotte you found at the station, e. g. the Lotte cinema at the upper level.

Case: Hyundai department store at

The building nearly consists only of fashion stores. If you search for something cheap, at the top level you can find at least one seller with moderate prices for daily clothes. I got there once to buy a shirt and trousers.

At the bottom level you can find a pizza parlor.

Hyundai department store
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Buying long-lasting commodities

Gmarket is a good address for long-lasting commodities as they also have some products from America; however, they often have to import them as well which leaves you with high prices and long transportation time. If you’re into used goods, the following cases might be helpful.

Case: Acer laptop power supply

At the end of my semester it seemed that the power supply of my laptop died. I first thought about buying new one on Gmarket, but the situation was time-critical, so I got a recommendation to check out the Acer Support Service in Seoul. I got there on the next day, but it takes a while from the Korea University, and as it’s online an office in a large building I first thought the address might be wrong, but it’s correct. Inside on a higher floor they checked the power supply which was ok, but the cable was damaged; further, I had not the optimal one as it delivers less Ampere than the correct one and the employees thought this might have damaged the cable. Eventually, they offered me a new power supply for 40.000 WON, but I wanted to stick with mine, so I only bought a new cable for 5.000 WON.

Thus, I recommend the following: if the power supply dies, better test the cable first, although it might be unlikely that the cable died.

Case: Dell laptop

Related to the death of the cable of the power supply of my Acer laptop, I looked for a second laptop as a backup solution. I checked Craigslist and found several cheap office laptops where you can even bargain a bit further. Finally, I got a Dell laptop with 4 GB RAM and Win 10 64 bit incl. Office 2007 for 130.000 WON after meeting with the seller on the next day of the Acer incident.

My conclusion: seems to work very well with commodities like cheap office laptops.

Case: Bicycle

I decided to buy a bicycle to save some time for daily activities like buying groceries in a department store. I found a seller on and made an appointment in the Gangnam district on saturday to get the bike for 40.000 WON. The seller arrived on time, but the bicycle had its best days seen and its back tire was completely worn-out. However, I didn’t want to return without it so I accepted the price and walked to a nearby bicycle shop for repairing. For further 50.000 WON my bicycle got in working order again so I spent 90.000 WON (about 82 €) in sum.


Case: Weights and dumb bells

Another purchase initiated over was about dumb bells. I bought it from another exchange student who was about going to leave Korea. He already set a low price for them (5.000 WON) and after a short talk I got them even for free as he simply wanted to get rid of them. He brought them in a suitcase, so carrying home was easy and at the same time I got a new case.

Recommendation: This was a lucky game, but again, commodities are cheap, and especially foreigners sometimes want to get rid of items they won’t carry with them when they move out of Korea.

Case: E-guitar

I also bought an e-guitar which is described here.

Selling long-lasting commodities

Unfortunately, my attempts as a private seller on craigslist failed. I wanted to cover at least my expenses from the costs of my bicycle and my dumb weights, but most buyers bargained over the bicycle and didn’t want to pay more than 30.000 although I highlighted it was repaired. Eventually I didn’t sell neither the bicycle nor the weights as I found no buyers before my trip around; shortly after my arrival back in Germany I got an offer of 20.000 WON for the weights.

Thus, I recommend to sell stuff early before a permanent departure as some responses to new ads take several days. But don’t expect to achieve high prices.


Featured Image – By 422737, via