Dongdaemun Fabric Market has been on my list of Seoul 'to dos' since the day we moved here three and a half years ago, but it took a visit from a dear friend at the beginning of the year to actually get me there (isn't it so often the way)? I've been back several times since, and it's one of the places I'm really hoping to make it to one last time before we leave.
Dongdaemun is a big sprawling market with areas dedicated to the sale of different things - lots of cheap clothing and footwear, and a slightly disturbing section for pets and pet supplies (if you find yourself stuck in Seoul looking for a pet iguana, this is the place to come). Amongst the knock off sneakers, fish tanks and two dollar sweaters is the Fabric Market - if you have the slightest hint of a crafting bone in your body, this is the place to visit.
Don't be fooled by the name, it's more than fabric you'll find here. Hundreds of tiny stalls are crammed in to two buildings, spread across six floors - it is beyond overwhelming (and often stiflingly warm, even in winter). There's beautiful embroidered silk, fluorescent lace, printed denim, corduroy, cotton and lace; there's spots and stripes and checks. There's beads and buttons, feathers and sequins, and all manner of embellishments and trims. There's embroidery hoops and knitting needles and teeny, tiny little pom poms. Oh, and then there's the ribbon! So much beautiful ribbon!
The market is largely aimed at wholesalers. Each of the fabric stalls have little samples set out, which you can take for free (provided you treat the system with respect), but they'll also sell it to you by the yard. Most of the ribbon stalls will sell you some 'samples' for about a dollar a yard (which is insanely cheap, especially considering the quality on offer). The top floor is targeted more at your everyday crafter, with things for sale in standard quantities for standard pricing (standard for Asia, that is!). Jade beads and wooden beads and fabric patches and fat quarters and all kinds of rope and bias binding in every shade and hair clips and tiny teddy bears and little bows and pink plastic hedgehogs and oh my! You can pretty much find anything and everything you crafting heart desires!