A Best Friend’s Guide To Shopping In Seoul

I’ve had an awesome Seoul shopping experience in just 3 days – all thanks to my friend, a brilliant shopper in Singapore and Seoul (her home for most of 2013). Thanks to her, my bags were loaded with many wonderful buys which I’m still delighted with. It was a marvel that I was able to squeeze everything in (be warned, skincare is *heavy*)! Amazingly, I kept a near-perfect price record (in Korean Won and Singapore dollars) of all my buys. So if you’re wondering just what is there to buy in Seoul – I’ve covered skincare, accessories, traditional goods, and souvenirs that’s easy on your wallet. Let the Seoul-tastic shopping marathon begin! (^ 0 ^)

Korea Shopping in Seoul

This is *not* including the freebies yet!

[1] Gim (seaweed) from a convenience store (4,000 Won / S$4.82)
[2] Music box from Moony Orgel, Ssamziegil (48,000 Won / S$57.81)
[3] Hanbok teddy bear charms from Insadong (Didn’t note down the price but I bought 30 bears of different hanbok colours!)
[4] Pure Snail Renewal Cream set from Danahan Ecopure, Myeongdong (90,000 Won / S$108.43 for 2+1 jars)
[5] Syn-ake fluid & cream set from A’pieu (36,150 Won / S$43.55)
[6] Magic Bubble Peeling Wash from Etude House (9,000 Won / S$10.84)
[7] Water Sleeping Mask from Laneige (25,000 Won / S$30.12)
[8] Steam Milk Bubble Mask from Skin Food (11,000 Won / S$13.86)
[9] McGirly BB cream + refill, Rice Wine Secret moisturiser, Rules of Pore primer from Too Cool For School (87,500 Won / S$105.41 for 3 items)
[10] Baking Powder facial wipes from Etude House (4,500 Won / S$5.29)
[11] It’s Free facial sheet masks from Innisfree (9,500 Won / S$11.45 for 10 masks)
[12] Samsung Note 2 phone covers from Myeongdong (9,000 Won / S$10.84, 26,000 Won / S$31.32 for the cat cover)
[13] Mother-of-pearl Samsung Note 2 phone cover from Insadong (24,000 Won / S$28.91)
[14] Glass owl dust cap handmade from Hongdae Free Market (9,000 Won / S$10.84)
[15] Brooch with upcycled diode yarn doll handmade from Hongdae Free Market (16,000 Won / S$19.28)
[16] Hanbok Hello Kitty charm from Insadong
[17] Bunny lady dust cap, notepad [18] Luggage tag [21] Letter sets from Artbox (24,600 Won / S$29.64 for 12 items)
[19] Wooden cut-out hair ties from Naughty Cat (3,000 Won / S$3.61 for 6 pieces)
[20] Earrings from RedEye, Myeongdong (20,700 Won / S$24.94 for 3 pairs)
[Not numbered] Rement Hello Kitty Japanese Sweets series from Hongdae (10,000 Won / $12.05)
[Not shown] Silver ring in the shape of a twisting leaf with tiny pearls from Hongdae Free Market (30,000 Won / $36.14)

Moony Orgel music box Korea

My music box, a birthday gift for my cat-loving sister, looks very much like this [Photo credit: Moonyart.com]

The Moony Orgel music boxes are made of handpainted ceramic atop a wooden base. You get to choose your cover, your winder knob (which, for my box, is the cat), and your tune from the shop’s list of 114 songs ranging from Schubert’s Lullaby to Princess Mononoke’s Theme to Girls Generation’s Gee! I picked Arirang for the box tune which you can listen to it here (side note: looks like Moony Orgel made a Hello Kitty limited edition version! ~squeee!~ :D).

Hanbok teddy bear korea souvenir

Isn’t this adorable ^ ^ [Photo credit: Ebay seller jessiemoon]

These hanbok teddy bears make fantastic Korean souvenirs – they are cheap, cultural and kawaii! All my female friends and family members loved them as gifts, and they are practical as phone or bag charms. If you want to know more about Korea’s lovely traditional wear, The Talking Cupboard has a great write-up about the types of hanbok worn by Korean women of different social classes back in the Joseon era. Sparkle Apple shows us the components of a hanbok, her enviable collection and even a video on how to wear one – if you ever want to bring one home.

Artimo mother of pearl phone cover Korea najeon chilgi  Hwang-Jini

Gorgeous mother-of-pearl portable art [Photo credit: Artimo.co.kr]

I really really regretted buying phone covers from Myeongdong [item 12.]. They weren’t really much cheaper than the ones sold by those little mall kiosks in Singapore, very likely because they come from the same China manufacturers anyway. Instead, I should have used the money to buy more najeon chilgi (mother-of-pearl craft) phone covers such as these by Artimo. My friend brought me to the Insadong shop, saying “you will *love* this!” and she was oh so right! The cover that interested me most was that of Hwang Ji-ni, a Josean period gisaeng (female entertainer), because it was very different from the usual najeon chilgi art and she was a strong, talented woman who became a legend beyond her time. Organic Geek has a pretty fun post on this beautiful traditional craft – thanks to this, I’ll be playing spot-the-najeon-chilgi when watching my next historical K-drama ;)

DANAHAN Eco Pure Snail Renewal Cream Korea

This probably doesn’t look as cutesy as the popular teen-oriented Korean brands, but believe, this is pure gold in jar! [Photo credit: Koreadepart.com]

JN Shopping Mall Myeongdong Seoul

Behold the robo-greeters, they kinda look like the white-faced Chinese hopping vampires albeit dressed in hanbok :P

During this visit to Seoul, my friend also introduced me to snail creams – particularly the Danahan brand. Now, having finished my Danahan supply in July 2013 (after using 1 jar for 4 months!), I bought Etude House’s as a substitute as Danahan wasn’t available in Singapore. Although the difference in snail mucin quantity seemed minimal – Danahan’s 76% versus Etude House’s 73% – the Danahan snail cream was superior, being easier to apply and absorbing better without any heaviness; it really brought a glow to my skin which has always been characterized by my facial therapists as the Sahara desert (very dry on the top with an oil field at the bottom :()  I’m planning to restock from the JN Shopping Mall in Myeongdong, as the shop gave very generous gifts during my visit – 2 huge bath box sets of Danahan and Ecopure – they usually give 1 as a purchase gift, but they were kind enough to give another box to my friend for introducing me :) It’s a little off the main action of Myeongdong but the 2 hanbok robot mannequins bowing every 5 seconds is an easy landmark!  [Address: 63-5 Chungmuro 2-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul. 서울시중구충무로2가63-5. Telephone: 02-756-3456]

McGirly BB Cream Too Cool For School

Good things come in good packages [Photo credit: Sokoglam.com]

Another excellent Korean cosmetic buy is the McGirly BB Cream SPF35 from Too Cool For School. The BB Cream comes in a mirror compact which you press down to release a dab of the liquid cream. I find using the sponge pad allows smoother applicaton without much waste or muck on my fingers. The BB cream is light and provides much better coverage than the BB creams I’ve used in the past. A selling point is supposed to be the makgeolli (Korean rice wine) extract – I can’t say if this is what makes it such a good BB cream – but it is really listed as a key component (Aspergillus/Rice ferment extract) at the top of its ingredient list (instead of being near the bottom). Im-chacha has nice shots of the store and other products. It looks like Indonesia is the first country which the brand is available outside Korea – I hope it comes very soon to Singapore and Malaysia!

Myeongdong Seoul Shopping

Behold, the glory of Myeong-dong! Where the shopping never stops! [Image credit: Visa Hong Kong]

As reference for future Seoul shopping (you’ll be back!), Visa has a discount coupon list (valid till March 2014) and helpful maps of Myeongdong, Insadong, Garosugil, Yeoju, Paju, Hongdae, and Incheon International Airport – brilliant! There’s also Seoulistic’s 40 cute must-buys when in Seoul and Jamie Liew’s cute stuff to buy in Korea. How could I have missed the super-cute keyboard stickers? Doh!

Free gifts

Somewhere in Shinjuku, is a very happy hotel staff :P

And now for the final encore, the freebies! :) :) :) Of which I had to give away the Danahan bath set to the staff of my Shinjuku Hotel, as my luggage was severely overweight by then! :( :( :( But my generous friend loaded me with her freebies collection (a small mountain compared to my paltry few) – thank you! ^o^

__________________

Still in the mood for shopping? Then spend A Lazy Breezy Saturday at the Hongdae Free Market & More!

While in Hongdae, be sure to play with the pretty kitties of Purrrrr-fectly Good Times at Tom’s (Cat) Cafe, Hongdae

Perhaps you should fuel up first with pretty rainbow cakes at Interlude in Ipoh: Zakka Loft

Or enjoy some epic Ebi burgers over at Japan’s Ebi Burger is coming to McDonald’s Singapore on 7th Nov 2013!

Like Etui Trove on Facebook for instant updates of this blog and more!  ♥ヽ(´ ∀ ` )ノ

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15 thoughts on “A Best Friend’s Guide To Shopping In Seoul

  1. Hi, have you tried the It’s Skin Prestige snail cream before? How would you compare this to the Danahan snail cream? Thanks!

  2. hi am a student with tight budget going to daegu. ill be attending a seminar. i wanted to buy cheap souvenirs like fridge magnet and key chains, which i believe i could afford to buy. are the prices in dollars or won. thank you. please suggest souvenirs items i cold bring home with my 21 dollars.

    1. Hi there,

      The prices listed in this post are in both Korean Won and Singapore Dollars. You should be able to buy enough little souvenirs like magnets & key chains cheaply. The teddy bear key chains in traditional Korean dress were a huge hit with my friends, & were priced affordably for ~10 bears in one pack. Happy shopping! ^^

  3. Hi Jeyna, sorry for the late reply – I missed your message earlier (my bad!). I bought my Laneige from one of the Laneige stores in MyeongDong. I didn’t had the chance to visit the Lotte Duty Free shop yet :(

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