Before I went to Korea, I had heard about how famous Busan is for their seafood, and that I had to try some while I was there. I saw my friends posting videos of them eating live octopi and was honestly rather grossed out. I’m no fan of seafood, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to go and have a look, so we went to one of the most famous markets in Busan – Jagalchi Fish Market.
Jagalchi Market, located on the shoreside road in Busan’s Jung-gu, is Korea’s largest seafood market, selling both live and dried fish. After the Korean War the market solidified itself as a fish market. Most of the people who sell fish are women, so the vendors here are called Jagalchi Ajumma, “ajumma” meaning middle-aged or married woman in Korean.
This market represents Busan and is famous throughout the country. If you visit you can eat fresh raw fish right at the market. Even these days you can see women selling mackerel, sea squirts (ascidians) and whale meat on wooden boxes along the road outside of the market and along the shore.
Every year in October the Jagalchi Cultural Tourism Festival is held, and it is easy to visit because of the convenient transportation provided by subway. Jagalchi Market is where you can see the lifestyle of the Busan locals.
This place is easily accessible – all you have to do is take the train to Jagalchi Station and walk for a bit. There are many signs around, and a huge map right outside the station as well, so you don’t have to worry about getting lost.
If you are a big fan of seafood, this is exactly the kind of place you definitely want to put in your itinerary. I honestly had no idea what half of the species even were, and everything looked very new to me. I do appreciate, however, that there isn’t a very overpowering ‘fishy’ smell at the fish market. You tend to get that quite often in your normal wet markets, not so much here.
Here, you will find ahjummas luring you to their ‘stall’ with menus listing prices of seafood that they can immediately cook for you to enjoy at the market. We didn’t try any, in part because most of us weren’t huge fans of seafood, and also due to the fact that prices here are definitely not cheap. I don’t know if this market is catered to tourists who would come to the market to eat Busan seafood, but the prices were really not affordable for us. Do take note that some of the menus shown by the ahjummas don’t even show prices, so be careful about ordering too much and paying an exorbitant fee afterwards!
Also, be warned that the floor here is wet – and that the creatures in the containers may start splashing water on you when you least expect it!
If you love eating seafood, love trying new dishes, and absolutely want to try eating live octopi here, you’re in luck. There are so many varieties and so many stalls here that there’s definitely here that you will enjoy.
Even if you are not looking to eat seafood in Busan, or just generally have no interest in seafood whatsoever, I still recommend coming here to take a look at the people and their daily way of life. It’s definitely very vibrant and interesting to see ahjussis and ahjummas occasionally haggling and arguing, or lazing at their stalls while waiting for customers.
52, Jagalchihaean-ro, Jung-gu, Busan
부산광역시 중구 자갈치해안로 52 (남포동4가)
Jagalchi Station (Busan subway line 1), Exit 10.
– Turn right onto Jagalchi 3(sam)-gil Street.
– Walk for 5min, then turn left to arrive at Jagalchi Market.