Date of final update : 2024.06.27   |  
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Get Everything You Want from Ganghwa at Ganghwa Pungmul Market

Get Everything You Want from Ganghwa at Ganghwa Pungmul Market 01

Turnip, mugwort, sweet potatoes, ginseng, scaled sardines, salted shrimp―all wonderful products nourished by the clean water and fertile land of Ganghwado Island. Hwamunseok mats, hwabangseok floor cushions, kkotsamhap baskets, and Ganghwa sochang fabric―beautiful crafts that capture the rich history of Ganghwado Island. It's surprising that this small island has so many renowned specialties. How nice would it be to find a place where you can browse all these products in one spot? There is such a place: Ganghwa Pungmul Market.

A Must-Visit for Avid Shoppers: Ganghwa Pungmul Market

Ganghwa Pungmul Market 01

The largest traditional market on Ganghwado Island, Ganghwa Pungmul Market, received a complete makeover into a newly built two-story building in 2007. The first floor handles agricultural and fishery products, while the second floor offers food and regional specialties. The first thing you’ll notice on the first floor is the staggering collection of fresh and sumptuous agricultural products from the island, including the round turnip bulbs with their eye-catching hue of gentle purple.

Ganghwa Pungmul Market 02

There is no exact record of when turnip cultivation began in Korea. However, turnips are mentioned in Yi Gyu-bo’s《Collected Works of Minister Yi of Korea (Dongguk Yi Sangguk Jip)》, which dates back to the Goryeo period, so it is likely that turnip farming started in or even before that era. Ganghwado Island became famous as a producer of turnips during the Joseon dynasty when turnips from the island were offered to the king in recognition of their quality. Thanks to the sea breeze and unique soil conditions, Ganghwa turnips are still recognized for their exceptional taste.

Ganghwa Pungmul Market 03

Turnips have a unique blend of gentle sweetness and sharp, stinging flavor. The latter can sometimes throw people off at first, but most come to appreciate the rather addictive taste of the vegetable. Turnips are enjoyed in various ways, and the local way is to make turnip kimchi. Indeed, Ganghwa Pungmul Market has many stores offering turnips and turnip kimchi. You can even see shops making their turnip kimchi on the spot. Different stores have different takes on kimchi, offering considerable variation in flavor. You can sample kimchi before purchase, so try them out and find the one that suits you the best.

Ganghwa Pungmul Market 04

The market also offers other Ganghwa specialties like Ganghwa sweet potato, renowned for its golden flesh and sweetness; Ganghwa salted shrimp, distinguished for its texture and flavor; and the excellent Ganghwa rice, nourished by the island’s fertile soil.

Ganghwa Pungmul Market 05
Ganghwa Pungmul Market 06

After browsing through the selection of local specialties on the first floor, head up to the second floor for a bite to eat. The variety of food offered on the second floor ranges from main dishes to desserts, but the centerpiece is the scaled sardine (baendaengi). Many restaurants here specialize in this fish.

Ganghwa Pungmul Market 07

Scaled sardines are widely caught around Ganghwado Island and Incheon. They belong to the Clupeidae family, the family of herrings, and are known for being extremely sensitive, so much so that the stress of being caught in a net can kill them instantly. This small fish offers a robust and savory flavor that can be enjoyed grilled, sliced raw, braised, or salted. Restaurants in Ganghwa Pungmul Market often offer set menus that include sliced raw scaled sardine, scaled sardine salad, and grilled scaled sardine, allowing you to sample a bit of everything. Scaled sardines are in season in May and June, making them even more flavorful and tender than usual. The set menus, which include marinated crab, are priced at KRW 32,000 to 35,000 for two people―a great deal considering the rising cost of living in Korea these days.

Ganghwa Pungmul Market 08
Ganghwa Pungmul Market 09

After enjoying your scaled sardines, it’s time for dessert. The second floor of the market is home to shops that sell steamed buns and rice cakes, often using Ganghwa mugwort for color and fragrance. Some shops make the rice cakes or steamed buns to order, allowing you to watch the masters at work and enjoy the unique experience of browsing Korean markets. The annex connected to the second floor’s restaurant area houses shops that offer Ganghwa specialties and medicinal herbs. The scent of mugwort washes over you as you enter the space, clearing your mind of clutter. Here, you can purchase Ganghwa mugwort, sometimes known as sajabalssuk (Lion’s Foot Mugwort).

Ganghwa Pungmul Market 10
Ganghwa Pungmul Market 11

Across from the medicinal herb shops, you’ll find stores offering Ganghwa crafts. Though the number of stores may be small, they boast a great selection of beautiful hwamunseok mats and dainty wangul (rush) crafts. Ganghwa’s wangul (rush) crafts, made by weaving pure-white Ganghwa rush by hand, are the pride and joy of the region. Colored wangul is used to make hwamunseok mats, which feature floral patterns; hwabangseok floor cushions, embroidered with patterns of bonghwang (a phoenix-like mythical bird) and taegeuk (a national symbol); and kkotsamhap, a collection of three baskets embroidered with flowers.

Ganghwa Pungmul Market 12
Ganghwa Pungmul Market 13

You can time your visit to the Ganghwa Pungmul Market on days where the Five-day Market is held (days ending in 2 and 7) to find even more things to see and purchase. The Five-day Market at Ganghwa Pungmul Market is a bustling and energetic affair, featuring malt candy sellers in comical costumes and grannies selling vegetables from their fields.

[TIP] Free parking passes are available with purchase from the market, so make sure to claim your parking pass. Free parking benefits last up to an hour (as of June 2024).

  • Address17-9 Jungang-ro, Ganghwa-eup, Ganghwa-gun, Incheon
  • Tel. No.+82-32-934-1318
  • Opening HoursHours vary by shop; closed every first and third Monday
    (if that Monday is a public holiday or a day ending in 2 or 7, the market is closed the following day)

If You Feel Something is Missing: Ganghwa Ginseng Center and Souvenir Shop

Ganghwa Ginseng Center and Souvenir Shop 01

If you are in the area, why not visit the Ganghwa Ginseng Center next to Ganghwa Pungmul Market? Ganghwa ginseng continues the Goryeo ginseng tradition, originally cultivated in Gaeseong. During the Korean War, ginseng farmers from Gaeseong fled to Ganghwado Island, bringing their trade with them. The island’s climate and soil conditions proved perfect for ginseng cultivation, making Ganghwa ginseng renowned for its quality. The most famous variety is the 6-year Ganghwa ginseng.

Ganghwa Ginseng Center and Souvenir Shop 02
Ganghwa Ginseng Center and Souvenir Shop 03

For quality ginseng at reasonable prices, visit the Ganghwa Ginseng Center on the first floor of the Ganghwa Ginseng Cooperative building. The sellers there grow their own ginseng and offer it in various forms, such as fresh or steamed ginseng, washed and dried ginseng, ginseng juice, candied ginseng, and ginseng tea. Another popular feature is the pasam, or broken ginseng, which is damaged or malformed but retains almost the same nutritional benefits as commercial ginseng and is more affordable.

[TIP] Free washing service is provided for buyers purchasing more than five roots of fresh ginseng (as of June 2024).

  • Address335 Ganghwa-daero, Ganghwa-eup, Ganghwa-gun, Incheon
  • Tel. No.+82-32-933-5001
  • Opening Hours09:00~18:00, closed every first and third Monday
    (if that Monday is a public holiday or a day ending in 2 or 7, the market is closed the following day)
Ganghwa Ginseng Center and Souvenir Shop 04
Ganghwa Ginseng Center and Souvenir Shop 05

Ganghwa’s sochang fabric has gained popularity recently due to increased awareness of environmental and health issues. In its heyday, Ganghwado Island housed 70 to 80 textile plants producing sochang fabric. Today, although the textile trade has declined, some plants continue the tradition.

Ganghwa Ginseng Center and Souvenir Shop 06 Ganghwa Ginseng Center and Souvenir Shop 07
Ganghwa Ginseng Center and Souvenir Shop 08

Items made with Ganghwa sochang, such as handkerchiefs, kitchen towels, towels, and indoor wear, are practical and of excellent quality, making them great souvenirs. The old city center of Ganghwa, just a short hop away from Ganghwa Pungmul Market, is home to the Sochang Experience Hall and the Souvenir Shop. These venues introduce the sochang textile tradition of the island and offer products made with Ganghwa sochang. The Souvenir Shop, located in the old Guse Clinic building, also offers other Ganghwa specialties like Ganghwa turnip tea and wangul crafts.

  • Address15 Sinmun-gil 18beon-gil, Ganghwa-eup, Ganghwa-gun, Incheon
  • Tel. No.+82-32-932-1015
  • Opening Hours10:00~18:00, Closed on Mondays
※ The information above may have changed since the initial registration date. Be sure to check before you travel.