September 18, 2010
One of the things we love to do when we go to new countries is check out their supermarkets. Sounds lame, doesn’t it? I don’t know: it just seems like there’s so much for you to learn from a country’s supermarket. The atmosphere, the stuff they’re selling, the way they market their products. It’s amazing. We felt the same way when we first came to Korea. In fact, going to a Korean Supermarket was one of the first videos we ever made! Over two years ago, when we first came to Korea, we were floored by Home Plus, and did a couple of videos of shopping in Korea. But that was so long ago. Our camera is so much better now! And we’re feeling kinda artsy fartsy lately, so we figured we’d make another video about Shopping in Korea, only this time with our new equipment.
Unfortunately, the awesome Home Plus in Bucheon had a mega-fire. It’s been closed for the past week or so, so we couldn’t make a movie there. Instead, we went to Kim’s Club right beside it, whose business must be going through the roof since it’s neighbour shut down.
So, if you haven’t seen a Korean Supermarket before, here are some cool thing you can expect:
1. Lots of Free Samples: We mean lots. Lots and lots. Did you ever go to Costco looking forward to its free samples, thinking that you’ll go there hungry and leave there stuffed? Costco’s got nothing on Korean Supermarket samples. When it’s busy, you can get something like two samples per aisle. Mandu, tofu, drinks, seaweed, chicken nuggets, yoghurt: there’ve been times that we see them cooking bulgogi. Delicious, awesome, and free! Also, there doesn’t seem to be that implicit one-sample-per-person rule. Plenty of times we have seen some people camped out by the samples with a toothpick in hand eating five or six pieces.
2. Lots of Ramen: A while ago we did a video about Korean Ramen, but that only showed you a small bit of Ramen. Just a smaaaaaaal bit. Go down a Ramen aisle at a Korean Supermarket and you won’t know what to do with yourself. More ramen than the eye can see.
3. Yelling Men: Yep. Men yelling loudly. Not at each other. Not argumentatively. They’re all yelling for your attention. COME OVER HERE! THIS THING HERE IS ON SALE AND IT’S DELICIOUS AND CHEAP! Forget about store signs to tell you their sales. With these guys, you’ll know about the sale before you even enter the place. And once you get to the men to buy some of the stuff they’re selling, you might have to wait in line to get some of it, because Korean Supermarkets can be really, really busy, which leads to our next point.
4. Big Crowds: Don’t go to a Korean Supermarket on the weekend unless you’re desperate. The crowds can get huge. You’ll wait in line just to be able to put something in your cart, then wait in a bigger line to pay for it. What’s cool about the huge crowds, though, is that the shopping carts have been adapted to work with the crowds. Meaning: your cart smoothly goes left and right as well. Run into a big line? Did the person in front of you just stop moving? Easily sidestep them with your cart. Sweet!
5. Women with Cool Outfits: Sure, each Supermarket has its own uniform, but there are a bunch of women not wearing that uniform. Some of the women who give samples have something that can only be described as baggy socks that start at your shoes and tie up under the knee. Can’t describe it any other way. And that goes with their miniskirts. Other women, especially during the holidays, wear hanboks next to the gift sets the store is selling. Awesome.
6. Spam as a Gift Set: No joke here. During the holidays, you’ll find lots of food gift sets in the stores. They can be full of apples, or seaweed, or beef, or even Spam. Don’t believe us? Check them out here. And while we’re not particularly fond of eating Spam, if you put it in some Budae Jjigae you’ll be totally blown away. Delicious!
Anyhow, check out our video of a Korean Supermarket experience. The stores aren’t really all too fond of people taking pictures, so we had to put the camera in the cart and just let it roll so that we weren’t too conspicuous. Here you’ll get a sense of what the Supermarkets are like. Now, is it just us, or are your supermarkets this busy as well? Let us know in the comments!