Every five days, we have o-il jang in my husband’s hometown. O-il jang or o-il sijang (5 일장 or 5 일 시장) literally means five-day market in Korean. O-il is for “five days” and jang or sijang is for “market”. Although my husband and I usually do our grocery shopping in Homeplus, I like buying vegetables and fruits in the traditional five-day market, as they are fresher and cheaper. Besides, I can always ask for a discount. I simply say “카카 주세요” (Kaka juseyo: Can you give me a discount?) with a wink and a smile, and the halmoni (grandmother) or ajossi (married/older man) usually gives in to my haggling. (I think it’s one of the skills I have. ^^)
I like to walk around Janghyeon when it’s market day. Everything excites me: from the street food, different kinds of fresh and dried fish/seafood, traditional snacks and side dishes, to the vibrance of Korean market life and the way people here work.
I like the sincere amiability of ajumma (married/older woman) and ajossi vendors. They are quite different from the ones I encounter on my commute. (Do you see the ajossi in the middle? He saw me taking a picture, and he waved and smiled at me. When I passed his stall, he even greeted me hello. Most of the time, older Koreans don’t greet younger ones first.)
Since o-il jang is a flea market, they sell almost everything… not only food, but also plants, housewares, clothes and shoes. (Sometimes they even sell “pets” like puppies and beetles, but on the day I took these photos, there were no animals in cages or boxes. Good thing there weren’t any. They’re the only ones I can’t bear to see on market day. T.T)
The streets of Janghyeon come to life every five days. They remind me a lot of Apo in my hometown in the Philippines, a flea market located just outside Apo church, that opens every Friday of the year, from morning until midnight. The first time I took my husband to Apo, he was fascinated… just as I was the first time we walked around his town on o-il jang.
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