If you decide to either work for April Institute or ChungDahm Academy, both company’s terms last for thirteen weeks. You will see your students 2-3 times in a week and you will always have a group of kids who never bring their supplies to class. As a result, it’s always good to keep an extra set of pencils, erasers, and coloring pencils/markers for tests and group projects. It may sound cruel, but I always need to have a red pen close by so I can correct their homework. Your location will probably have a set of materials for you to use, however, I always find that it is never enough. Since I have my own classroom and my own projects, I decide to buy my own things and make it feel like it is my space. Corporate will provide you with the tools that you need for your classroom, but I wanted my room to be comfortable. As the summer term just ended, and the Fall term has just begun, I wanted to provide people with a list of places where you can shop for new school supplies. What's even better is that most of the places mentioned in my blog are cheaper than the big retailers like E-Mart and Home Plus.
Daiso- Daiso originally hails from Japan and is one of my favorite places to go shop in Korea. It has a massive stationary section as well as a children’s toy section. Best part of it all is that almost everything is under 5000 won. So when I want my students to do arts and crafts for their group projects, I usually stop by here and pick up the things I need. But not only is Daiso good for the classroom, it is also good for purchasing household items like kitchenware, storage, and cleaning material. If you want to stock up on basic necessities for the home or classroom, Daiso is a must and can be found near major subway stations around Seoul.
Miniso - Also from Japan is Minso. It is a relatively new store in Korea and currently has locations at Hyewha Station and Samsung Station. This company focuses on ‘simple, natural, and quality’. I was lucky that my friends decided to stop by and see what was in the shop. All of their products were definitely clean and minimalistic. The products here are still inexpensive and I would say a grade nicer than Daiso. The real reason why I put this company on my list is because of their electronic section. Their earphones, charger cords, and extra tablet/cellphone power packs were also cheap. You may want to grab a few extra to store in your room because students will always forget to bring earphones and charge their tablets.
Flying Tiger Copenhagen - Another new company to enter the Korean market is Flying Tiger Copenhagen, with a total of 8 stores (including Starfield Hanam and Jamsil Lotte World Mall). This Danish company is a lot different from Miniso as the stores are a lot larger and more colorful. There are plenty of knick-knacks to place on your desk that you could find in this store. I really enjoy their different puzzles because my students will come to my desk and try them out. This will allow me to talk to them while they play before class or during their break time. Also, many of these items do not cost more than 10000 won and it would be a great place to shop for April’s Market Day Event. This is when corporate buys a bunch of different toys and the students can turn in their stamps to buy gifts.
Cheonho’s Stationery Town - Although not considered a store, Cheonho’s Stationery Town is located in Gangdong-gu. It is completely dedicated to children’s school supplies. Because it is filled with different stationery stores, many prices can be negotiated depending on the store. I like to go here during Halloween so I can decorate my desk, pick up a costume, and maybe purchase some props for my students to use for their video projects. For most people, this place can be far to get to but you can look for stationery stores (문구점) around your neighborhood. I’m sure they will have similar items to those that you could find here.
Those were my top 4 places to shop for the new term. I think it is important for a teacher to buy some materials, if the academy doesn’t provide something you specifically need, in order to make the classroom a more enjoyable environment. I especially like to buy things for group video projects because this is a day where they can be a bit more creative and can express themselves. If you can think of a different place to shop, please write it in the comments below.
Marc Gonzales has been living in Seoul working at the ChungDahm's Gangdong Branch for 5 years now. During those 5 years, he worked his way up from being a teacher and is now a faculty manager for that location. He majored in Finance and Marketing at the University of Nevada Las Vegas while working as a manager for a national bank. In his spare time, he enjoys outdoor activities like hiking the numerous mountains around Seoul and biking along the massive Han River. To know more about him and his adventures living in Korea, follow Marc on Twitter @geonmakku and on Instagram @geonmakku.