Living in Incheon, South Korea has a lot of perks; I’m fairly close to the airport, near the coast, I can go and enjoy and enjoy the beautiful Songdo whenever I want, etc. But shortly after I arrived, I found out that one of the greatest things about living in Incheon was my proximity to Bupyeong Station (Incheon Line 1). Bupyeong station houses one of the most amazing underground shopping malls, where you can find pretty much everything and anything you could want. It’s cheap, convenient, and home to some of my greatest purchases while teaching English in Korea thus far. Here are my top reasons for being in love with Bupyeong:
Cell Phone Cases – I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; the people of Korea are in a long-term, faithful, and 100% committed relationship with their cell phones. Everywhere you go people are on their phones playing games, chatting, watching movies, plotting world domination, etc. And as a result you can buy cell phones and cell phone accessories on any corner, on any street, in any city of Korea. Bupyeong, however, has cell phone cases that not even your wildest imagination could create and they are usually much cheaper than those sold from the major stores.
The cases can range from the awesomely cheap (12,000W) to the more chic bedazzled (40,000W). Either way no matter what smart phone you’ve opted on while living and teaching English here, you will find the perfect protection for it in Bupyeong and for a typically better price than other places. Some of the fancier ones are even handmade (Great ideas for Christmas/birthday presents!) In Korea cell phones are a crucial part of every day life, so it’s no wonder their cell phone cases and accessories are miniature works of art. My advice, take advantage of them while you’re here, I’ve become a little obsessed with collecting the strangest and most extravagant ones possible.
Bags – Many of the shops I find myself perusing in Korea have the most gorgeous handbags from great designers, but with that usually comes a steep price tag. Bupyeong is home to a lot of cheap things, and one of them is cheap bags. Not just handbags though - luggage, backpacks, suitcases, wallets, fanny packs (victory!) and more. Any kind of carrier, they’ll have it and at a reasonable price. Granted they may not have the shelf life of other bags (depending on how you treat them), they get the job done perfectly well.
All of the bags I’ve gotten while teaching English in Korea have stood the test of time, and are just as cute as the ones hanging in boutique windows. They have every color, style, and size under the rainbow and you seldom ever see them priced over 20,000W. As a girl who is a little handbag obsessed, I always look forward to adding to my collection after a trip to Bupyeong.
Weird Shirts – This is it. This is my favorite part of Bupyeong. Now Korean fashion is different from what I’m used to at home, it’s not every day that you see an 8-year-old girl rocking a shirt with the Playboy Bunny logo on it, but I digress. The point is that while a lot of the fashion is like what you see back home, a lot of it is amazingly different. I’ve started a running collection of weird tees from Bupyeong that I’m pretty proud of. Shirts for 5,000W that say things like “Kill the Hippies” or “A Moose Milk” are everywhere and so are bejeweled sweatshirts with Avril Lavigne lyrics or just the most nonsensical English you have ever seen. (Sidenote: The only place you will see grammatically perfect English in Korea is on your Facebook newsfeed, it’s an epidemic).
Anyway I’ve started this collection of absurdly strange and bewildering shirts that I can’t wait to go home and rock in America to the dismay of my closest friends and family.
Shoes – Bupyeong is also home to shoes, and lots of them. Men’s shoes, women’s shoes, children’s shoes, maybe even shoes for dogs given the obsession with accessorizing your pooch in this country. Like everything else in Bupyeong they have shoes by the thousand and they range in prices from the mind-blowingly cheap to the slightly more expensive.
As with the bags they may not be the most durable, but the price is definitely right. You might have to hunt a little for your size (Korean feet about the same size as what I imagine fairy feet are) but it’s definitely worth a shot especially given the variety offered here.
Normal Clothes – While Bupyeong may be the original home of the strange tee shirt, it is also carries a large selection of normal clothing for both men, women, and children. The clothes are cute and up to date with the latest fashion but always for a fraction of the price you’d pay in the designer stores. I especially like Bupyeong for everyday essential clothing like camisoles, socks, belts, sweaters, etc. Anything that you find in Uniqlo can be found in Bupyeong in more colors for less money. They also have some adorable infant clothes that I like to send home to all of my friends and family back home with babies, Korea definitely has a monopoly on cute baby clothes.
Accessories in General – Anyone living in Korea knows that this country is accessory obsessed and I personally love it. Everywhere you look there’s shiny trinkets and baubles to catch your eye and at times it can be a little hypnotic.
Bupyeong is the mecca of cheap accessories, literally everywhere you turn, there’s something that will catch your eye. Earrings, necklaces, headbands, scarves, hats - it’s all here and in excess making it so hard to choose because sometimes you just want to buy it all (careful ladies). Nevertheless, if you need so spice up your accessories head over here and be prepared for a sensory overload because they have some of the wildest and best stuff I’ve seen in while teaching in Korea.
Nose rings – For those of you coming to Korea with piercings, be aware that it’s not always easy to find the appropriate jewelry so bring extra. I hunted around Bupyeong, asking all the jewelry vendors I could find if they carried nose rings but to no avail. Finally, after what seemed like days, I found one side stall that had nose rings (I had to point to my nostril to indicate what I wanted). They are extremely cheap (3,000W) and actually pretty cute considering I didn’t even think I would find them. They also have both studs and hoops, which is awesome. The stall is directly to your left when you come into the mall from the entrance. It’s a small little booth and I’m not even sure it has a name but it’s there and it’s helped me out many times when I’ve been without a nose ring.
Nails – Bupyeong also offers a few locations to get a nice mani/pedi when you feel like spoiling yourself. The women working there are really sweet (they even gave me a Christmas present!) and do a really nice job, so if you have some down time while shopping you should definitely check it out. The area is a little cramped, but it’s worth the price (14,000 – 20,000W).
Perfume – Bupyeong has a few perfume stores that generally carry every scent known to man so if you ever feel like changing your scent without spending the big bucks on your Chanel No. 5 or Burberry, give these a whiff.
Eye Care – There are a few eye care shops where you can buy yourself a stylin’ new pair of frames for cheap and even get some colored contacts to scare all of your students with. If they ask just tell them it’s your super-power. I don’t personally know what you’ll pay for glasses but the colored contacts are safe and range in price from 9,000W to 50,000W.
Vivel – Somewhere in the hustle and bustle of Bupyeong is a little stand called Vivel. The best way I can describe it is a cookie ball, covered in icing, and then smashed into delicious pieces. It’s a great way to reward yourself after a day of shopping so do yourself a favor and grab one should you stumble across it.
Stores – Bupyeong also has your favorite beauty retailers so that you can pick up your other favorite essentials while shopping. Among the stores lining Bupyeong you’ll find Innisfree, Olive Young, Ariatrum, Tony Moly, Etude, The Face Shop, Skinfood, etc. All under one roof although spread out.
Those are just a few of the awesome things you can buy in Bupyeong during your time off from teaching English in Korea. As I stated earlier, they may not carry the hottest couture, but you can find many a treasure here if you’re willing to look. If you have an afternoon free and the weather outside is frightful don’t hesitate to visit Bupyeong, it’s truly one of my favorite places in Korea and I know that I’ll miss it when I go.
A recent graduate of University of Massachusetts Amherst, Kara Jameson has always loved traveling and being able to discover new and exciting things everyday. After living abroad in Greece, Kara decided it was time for her next adventure, this time even further from home. After being introduced to Aclipse, she knew exactly how she wanted to spend her post-graduate days before going back to school. Kara now lives in Incheon working for the Yeonsu branch of Chungdahm. The months have flown by and every day is another opportunity to learn something new about this vibrant and amazing culture! To learn more check out her blog on the Ning page!