Filipino Market in Hyehwa-dong to close?

A commenter left a message the other day about the announcement last Sunday on the impending closure of the Filipino market in Hyehwa-dong. She said that it will be relocated somewhere else. It made me think about the recent closure of my favorite street food stalls along Jongro (the avenue). My husband and I used to go there for a serving of tteokbokki (spicy rice cake), chap sal sundae (cow intestine filled with blood and glass noodles), and dalk kochi (chicken barbecue) after watching a movie at the Seoul Cinema. Jongro is just not the same without those food stalls.
Anyway, I live near Hyehwa-dong but I don’t frequently visit the Filipino market since I’m mostly out with my family on Sundays. It would be sad to see them go. I know that a lot of Filipinos living in Korea rely on the Sunday street market for their fix of Filipino goodies that they miss so much. There are so many things that could be bought there, not only products from the Philippines but some items from the United States as well. I think it’s one of the few places one can buy breakfast oatmeals and perhaps, water softener.
Here’s an excerpt of the news article written by Kwon Mee Yoo and our good friend Cathy Garcia:

Father Alvin Parantar, chaplain of the Hyehwa-dong Filipino Catholic Community, who acts as a representative for the ethnic community, confirmed the district office’s request, adding that it was like the district kicking them out for its own convenience without providing an alternative site for their gathering.
“The reasons they gave up us was one, they received complaints from neighbors and pedestrians in the area; two, there were concerns about cleanliness and order; three, they want to redevelop the sidewalk and include a waterfall wall in the area; and four, they want to transfer the market to a new multicultural market,” the priest told The Korea Times over the phone.
Seoul’s Little Manila Faces Closure

This isn’t the first time that I’ve read about complaints from neighbors and pedestrians. I remember reading a news article a few years back on this issue, but the market is only there once a week! About the redevelopment of the sidewalk, I think they started this last year. On my last visit to Daehakro, I noticed how different the sidewalk was. They relocated some of the sculptures and some of them were totally removed.
I hope that the Jongro District Office is sincere in relocating the Filipino market to a safer place. I’ve been a Jongro-gu resident for seven years and I’ve seen several street markets “vanish” or relocated like the Dongdaemun flea market which was relocated to a huge building in Sinseol-dong, or the small shops near the new Lotte Castle in Cheonggyecheon.
Oh well, I don’t really frequent the Filipino market but Hyehwa-dong wouldn’t be the same on a Sunday without it.


    1. Hi Eden! I find it a little difficult to make friends with other Pinoys in Hyehwa. Sometimes, they wouldn’t trust you if you’re not their kind. I guess it’s because a few of those who go there are illegal workers and it would be hard for them to just trust and allow anybody to join their group. Then there are the women (usually married to foreigners) – A FEW OF THEM THAT I’VE MET are just too egotistic and dramatic. My friend once said they’re just like flies on top of the carabaos.
      I’ve met a few people there that I like and I try to keep in touch with them from time to time. One of them is a licensed PT in the Philippines, he’s here illegally and is working as a freelance masseur. So guys, if you need a massage just tell me and I’ll give you his number.

  1. ….”My friend once said they’re just like flies on top of the carabaos.” – so disappointing, yet, it’s true. =(

    1. Near Insadong. I think it’s a nice place and since Jongro-gu is creating a multi-cultural street there, then why not relocate? I like the Filipino market at Hyehwa-dong but being in a place frequented by tourists could mean a better opportunity for the sellers.

      1. It would be closer to more tourists, but it would be far from the Filipino community that pops up every Sunday around the market. I just launched a new site and our feature story is about the Filipino community around the Hyehwa market. If you want to know more about the whole community you can check it out at
        .-= Andre F´s last blog ..Welcome to International Underground =-.

  2. RE: Closure
    Most of the time, people are not aware of the big difference between a PRIVILEGE and a RIGHT, and will resort to complaints immediately.
    “One of them is a licensed PT in the Philippines, he’s here illegally and is working as a freelance masseur”
    – Hes here illegally? I dont think its appropriate for him to stay here, much more work as a freelance masseur. If he cant fix his papers, then he should leave, simple.

  3. Working on a post myself, good to hear your thoughts…
    arvinsign, it is one “right” and “duty” to work (article 32), and a citizen has the right to “pursue happiness” (article 10). Go read the Korean constitution. Yes, being here on a work visa does make you a citizen. The privilege of the locals should not be trumped by the rights of the foreigners.
    The way the law is right now, virtually every foreigner (English teacher, Filipino, and everyone else) could theoretically be found doing something outside of what their visa status allows. That goes double if someone in the government doesn’t like you. Ever make some money for a side job while here in Korea? Get a photo published in the newspaper? Ever volunteer at an orphanage? Also consider that a ‘work’ visa is the only type of visa you’re likely to get until you qualify for a ‘blood’ visa (e.g. you’re married to a Korean, you’re related to a Korean, or you’ve been here for more than 5 years)
    @Betchay: Issues behind forced relocations notwithstanding, virtually every ‘relocation’ that’s happened in Seoul has been for the worse. Being relocated makes the thing being relocated lose some character, if not other recognizable assets (reputation, known location, any marketing materials, etc.).


    1. hi bless! the filipino market is still there… you could visit the place and buy some stuff there… you might also want to try the Foreign Food Market in Itaewon

  5. Hello po,im aiza now im currently live in gensan..ask ko lng po if mahal po b dyn and if gusto ko sana mgbusiness ng pagkain pinoy restaurant dyn s korea..ok po b dyn mgbusiness ng filipino food?mgkano po magagastos?

  6. Hi ms. Betchay,
    I’ve read read a number of your comments in different blogs and a find those pieces very helpful esp. for us newbies in South Korea.
    I am working at HHI in Ulsan. I’ve been longing to meet fellow pinoys here; but infortunately, for the past two months of my stay here, i’ve never met one pinoy. I heard there are those who work in the shipyard, but that is relatively far from my area. I work in the office situated almost in front of Hyundai Hotel in Dong Gu.
    Do you have any idea of a Philippine store nearby? I am actually still afraid to go out without a companion. In fact, the farthest I’ve been to was Homeplus in Dong gu. Could you help me fine a nearest pinoy store? Thanks for the help.

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