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.