If you’re a shopper, Seoul is a candy store. The city itself is like a giant, twisting shopping arcade; it’s rare to come across an area that isn’t packed with patchworks of chain stores and tiny boutiques.
Subway stations, especially the major hubs, can have bug lamp effects on travelers — or at least those who are already shopping-prone. You’re on your way to meet your friend across the river and the next thing you know you’ve bought two phone cases, a button-down blouse for 10,000 won and some magnetic bunny-shaped earrings.
As shopping venues, subway stations offer cheap prices, an emphasis on accessories, and lots of novelty (perhaps depending on how much time you’ve spent in Korea). In the winter, the subway stations truly double as underground malls: you’re much warmer underground than trying to mooch body heat from the close proximity of the herds that besiege Myeongdong. Subway station shopping is great for picking up cheap flair or a basic button down or tee shirt you’d probably pay a bit more for at 8ight Seconds.
See what Gangnam Station has to offer:
The stretch of Gangnam Station from exit 4, 5 and 6 and the Shinbundang Line up to right before exits 8 and 9 is newer than the rest of the station has a newer, polished look. Shops along that stretch also give off the “Gangnamyeok posh” vibe as well with more mid-ranged clothing and accessories to match.
SSFW has both an apparel boutique and an SSFW Accessory annex in this section of the station. Don’t resist getting sucked in. Their apparel is ultra-trendy, organized by color, and is always dropping down in price. Their accessories, especially their bags, scarves, and watches, step slightly to the left of basic and the price is right. Indulge. Their winter accessories were nice, affordable urban basics, so keep an eye on what they roll out for summer. If you’re keen on stud earrings or a rings maximist, you can do well at SSFW.
This stretch also has The Gam, a Korean boutique chain known for one-word emblazoned t-shirts, button downs, and other trendy pieces in the vein of hole-y sweaters at rock bottom prices.
S Club by Exit 11 (second photo from top) entices you in with appealing and cheap accessories displayed outside- simple spring scarves at the moment. Clothes inside are trendy and a bit more minimalist and mature than the general Gangnamyeok apparel. Prices fall more in the middle.
A nameless handbag boutique near Baskin Robbins has some cute backpacks and other faux leather crossbody and tote style bags at prices that over around W40,000 – 50,000 and below.
The majority of Gangnam Station caters to the female crowd, but J. Bros, near Exit 4, has a spacious interior and actual atmosphere the other subway boutiques lack. Trendy clothes for men from shirts to socks are in abundance at reasonable prices.
A cluster of shops near Exit 8 including the irresistibly named Amengirl and the boutique About Some are good places to find some cute right-now basics like washed out denim button downs, striped tops, or a khaki military jacket. Prices are scarcely above W15,000.
In need of…any beauty product under the sun? Gangnam Station has every imaginable chain of beauty store to excess: not one, but two Tony Moly and Innisfree.
Fast and cheap snacks are abundant when you’re worn down from rack-rummaging and people dodging. In addition to kimbab fare there’s New York Fries and New York Hot Dog, as well as Baskin Robbins, Mister Donut and some ramen places near exit 6. Plus, Gangnamyeok makes like an American mall with its very own Auntie Anne’s. Just make sure to visit near the end of your trip for the inevitable finger grease.
When escaping the rain, in transit, or seeking cheap thrills, duck down to Gangnam Station and free yourself of the cash burning holes in your pockets.
Words and photographs by Charlotte Hammond