tongin market

Tasting Tradition: Exploring Tongin Market 통인시장

📍18 Jahamun-ro 15-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul | 서울특별시 종로구 자하문로15길 18 (통인동)
🚆 Gyeongbokgung Station (line 3, exit 2)
🕒 7:00 – 21:00 | Dosirak Lunch Box 11:00 – 16:00 | Closed on Mondays and the third Sunday of the month.
₩  Free to enter
☎️ +82 2-722-0911
✍🏻 Close to Gyeongbokgung Palace and Seochon Village

Tongin Market, located near Gyeongbokgung Palace and Seochon Village in Seoul, is your go-to spot for delicious Korean treats. It’s easy to reach by subway or bus, making it a convenient stop after exploring the area. With around 80 shops offering everything from restaurants to street food stalls, you’ll find plenty of tasty and affordable options. Plus, they serve small portions, so you can try some of everything without breaking the bank. Let’s dive in and discover all the yumminess Tongin Market offers!

How to get to Tongin Market

How to get to Tongin Market

Tongin Market is close to Gyeongbokgung Palace. To get there easily, take Exit 2 from Gyeongbokgung Station and walk straight for about 576 meters. The market entrance is on your right.

Tongin Market, 통인시장


  • Arrive early for lunch. The Dosirak lunchbox system is only available until 4 pm on weekdays and 3 pm on weekends.
  • Bring cash. While some vendors may accept credit cards, having cash on hand is always a good idea, especially for the Dosirak system.
  • Bring your camera. Tongin Market is a feast for the senses; you’ll want to capture all the sights and smells.
  • Plan your meal. Since most dishes are only 1-2 coins, you can easily sample a variety of foods. Decide what kind of main course you want first, and then fill in the rest of your tray with side dishes.
  • If you’re looking for a place to store your belongings, check out the lockers on the center’s first floor.
  • Wear comfortable shoes. You’ll be walking a lot, so wear comfortable shoes.

Things to do at Tongin Market

Tongin market lunch box

Tongin Market offers a unique dining experience. Visitors can assemble their lunchboxes using brass coins, known as Yeopjeon, 엽전. This popular activity, Yeopjeon Dosirak 엽전도시락, is a must-try at the market. Yeopjeon (葉錢) is an ancient coin made of bronze. Generally round and flat, it has a square-shaped hole in the center. The first Yeopjeon was minted during the Jin Dynasty in China, and in Korea, the first one was cast in 996 AD during the Goryeo Dynasty.

Tongin market dosirak

To participate, you can purchase brass coins at the market entrance or the Dosirak Cafe on the second floor of the Customer Service Center in the heart of the market. For 5,000 won, you’ll receive 10 brass coins to use. Along with your coins, you’ll also be provided with an empty plastic lunchbox with six compartments. Then, wander through the market, exploring the numerous food stalls where you can select your preferred dishes to fill your lunchbox. Visitors love this customizable lunch box experience because you can sample various Korean flavors in one sitting. 

Tongin market dosirak

Not all stalls accept coins, but you can easily identify the ones that do by checking their category. Look for a coin image or the words “dosirak cafe” to know where you can use your coins.

Tongin market dosirak

Once you’ve curated your perfect meal, return to the Dosirak Cafe, where you can sit on the 2nd floor. Here, you can relax and enjoy your lunch box. Additionally, the cafe offers utensils, complimentary water, and the option to add rice or soup to your lunchbox for an additional fee. It’s a fun way to sample the flavors of Tongin Market while creating your unique culinary adventure.

Tongin market stalls

Even if you’re not planning to try the Dosirak experience, a leisurely walk through the market is worth it. Wander around and peruse the stalls, where you’ll find many items for sale. From fresh produce and seafood to delicious Korean snacks and interesting souvenirs, there’s plenty to see and discover.

What to eat at Tongin Market

Fried Tteokbokki at Tongin market

The go-to treat at Tongin Market is the fried tteokbokki. Traditionally, tteokbokki is boiled but fried in spicy oil before being doused in a fiery sauce. This unique twist gives the snack a crisp exterior while keeping it soft. While the classic version uses spicy oil, the market also offers alternative varieties like soy sauce, all equally popular among visitors.

Dakkochi at Wolmido hawker street food cart

Dakkochi is a favorite street food featuring grilled chicken thighs and green onions cooked over charcoal for a smoky flavor. The marinade, typically made with soy sauce, sugar, and garlic, offers a delightful sweet and savory taste. Different versions include spicy chicken and additions like sesame leaves or mozzarella cheese. With its delicious flavors, dakkochi is an ideal choice for a quick and satisfying snack.

Tongin market banchan

If you know a bit about Korean food, you’ve probably heard of banchan, the side dish served with every meal. In Korea, you’ll find stores dedicated to selling banchan for convenience. These stores offer a range of options, from stir-fried meat and noodles to curries, egg rolls, and different types of pancakes (jeon). At Tongin Market, you’ll discover one of these stores providing a variety of banchan to enjoy at home with rice for a delicious and easy meal.

Tongin market - Veggie rolls Ssam Gujeolpan

These savory treats often boast a thin rice paper wrapping stuffed with various veggies like carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers, and seaweed. It’s a fantastic way to enjoy a colorful assortment of nutrients! If you’re a fan, you can purchase a regular-sized portion to wrap up and take home. Plus, you can pay for these rolls with regular cash instead of coins!

Mayakgimbap and Tteokbokki

Mayak Kimbap, also known as Drug Kimbap or Mini Kimbap, is a popular Korean street food and lunch option that has gained international attention for its addictive flavors and bite-sized convenience. Unlike traditional kimbap, which is typically a larger roll filled with various ingredients, mayak kimbap is smaller. It features a simpler filling, often consisting of just two or three main components.


This Korean glass noodle dish is traditionally made with stir-fried vegetables, glass noodles, and meat. However, vegetarian versions are also available, with just vegetables and glass noodles. You may find this dish at some restaurants or food stalls in Tongin Market.

This ice cream has been making waves on social media! It’s coated in marshmallow, creating a deliciously irresistible treat. It’s the perfect dessert to wrap up your food tour in style.

Nearby attractions

Gyeongbokgung Palace History Walking Tour
  • Address: 161, Sajik-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul 
  • Open hours: January-February, November-December 09:00-17:00 | March-May, September-October 10:00-18:00 | June-August 09:00-18:30 | Last admission 1 hour before close | Closed on Tuesdays
  • Fee: Adults (Ages 19-64): 3,000 KRW ($2.26); group admission (10+ people): 2,400 KRW ($1.81); children under 18 and above 65 and people wearing Hanbok can visit for free. 

Visiting Gyeongbokgung Palace is a must for anyone traveling to Korea. As the largest of Seoul’s five Joseon Dynasty royal palaces, it boasts stunning architecture and expansive grounds perfect for relaxation and sightseeing. Exploring this historical site offers a captivating glimpse into traditional Korean culture. For an extra special experience, consider wearing a hanbok while wandering the palace grounds and taking photos – it’s a favorite activity among visitors. You’ll even receive a free admission ticket if you don a hanbok! Check out our guide on renting a Hanbok here

Seochon Village Tour in Seoul
  • Address: 28-1 Tongui-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul
  • Open hours: 24/7
  • Contact: +82-2-735-8688

One of the best places to visit near Tongin Market is Seochon Village. Situated west of Gyeongbokgung Palace, this is a cherished historic neighborhood. It boasts old shops and traditional hanok buildings that have endured over time. Korean traditions harmonize with modern influences within its labyrinthine alleyways, lending the district a distinctive charm. You can explore a variety of establishments in Seochon Village, including shops, guesthouses, cafes, and restaurants, all contributing to its allure.

sejong food street
  • Address: 54-2 Chebu-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul
  • Open hours: Vary according to restaurants.

Before immersing yourself in the local culture, fuel up with delicious food at Sejong Village Food Street. Just a short walk from Exit 2 of Gyeongbokgung Station, you’ll spot the signboard and green lanterns marking the entrance. Despite its name, Sejong Village Food Street embodies the culture of ordinary people rather than royalty or the upper class. Here, you’ll find a mix of newly opened hot spots run by young entrepreneurs and long-standing establishments dating back decades, revitalizing the once-quiet commercial district. With restaurants scattered throughout every alley, there’s plenty of choice to satisfy your hunger!

Tongin Market is a must-visit destination in a city bursting with culinary wonders. Its lively atmosphere, diverse food options, and unique Dosirak experience offer a true taste of Korean culture. If you find yourself around Gyeongbukgung Palace or Seochon Village, visit Tongin Market—it’s worth it!

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