Something smells fishy…

Every few weeks we try and head out of the village for a breath of city air (read: something to do).  One of our favourite destinations so far is Busan for the reason that every time we go there we discover a new pocket full of interesting sights.

Being the proud grandson of Hawkes Bay fish and chip royalty Dan had been particularly keen to check out the famous Jagalchi fish market.  We had originally factored this into our honeymoon week but thanks to the never-ending stuff ups made by our “awesome” travel agent at STA Travel (Willis Street branch, in case you’re wondering where to avoid!) we didn’t manage to actually make it there until a few weeks ago.

It was totally worth the wait.

Getting off the subway we followed what we suspected was a line of people walking towards the fish markets.  After a few minutes we could smell the ocean so let our noses guide us toward where we logically assumed the markets might be.  

Jagalchi is composed of two large areas – firstly, there is an outdoor market full of tourists,  customers and vendors lining one side of the street for a number of blocks.  The other side of the street is filled with restaurants, all with touts trying to convince you that their fish establishment is the best.

The second area is an indoor market, filled with hundreds more vendors.

Their stalls line all of the first floor of this massive, modern looking building.  There are tanks of fish swimming, eels wriggling, crabs snapping and crustaceans…um, crustating?  The point is that this is a huge ‘wet’ market where everything is so fresh that its still alive.  You can’t ask for much better than that!

We wandered around bewildered by the variety and freshness of what was on display.  While we recognised many of the different creatures on display, some were weird and wonderful things we’ve never seen before.

We were particulary enamoured with a stall of large, perfect looking scallops.  The vendor spoke fantastic English and in his best salesmanship suddenly became our new best friend, showing us many of his wares.  He explained that not only could we buy this amazingly fresh seafood, we could have it taken directly upstairs to be cooked while we waited!  This was too good to be true so of course we were in like a shot, choosing a kg of the gorgeous scallops.

Scallops chosen, the man took off at pace beckoning for us to follow.  Winding our way through the tanks, we were led up a staircase and discovered that the second floor of the building was laid out in row upon row of tables set for dining.  The outer tables had views overlooking the gorgeous harbour and encroaching dusk.

He promptly handed our scallops to another man, and took off.  We were given the choice of how we wanted our shellfish prepared, opting for a mix of lightly grilled and some sashimi.  After around 10 minutes of gleefully awaiting our treat, the scallops arrived, all beautifully grilled.  Sadly the sashimi will have to wait until next time.

After devouring our succulent, fresh scallops in record time, we headed back down to the ground floor where we found a door that appeared to lead to the wharf.  We stepped outside and were greeted with a stunning promenade over looking a harbour dotted with fishing boats and illuminated with the setting sun.  The Busan skyline provided an amazing backdrop while behind us the Jagalchi market building loomed, itself beautifully lit up and extremely impressive looking.

Jagalchi was a surprisingly entertaining and incredible discovery that we would hope that any visitor to Busan makes a point of seeing.  We are looking forward to our next visit there and will be taking lots of money and empty tummies!

Categories: Food, Korea, TravelTags: , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Those scallops look beautiful and succulent. It is hard to imagine that there are enough buyers to eat all that seafood in a timely manner. Such volume and variety!

    • I guess that’s the advantage to having such a large ‘wet’ component of the market – if you don’t sell it one day, its still alive the next! As for the non-living stuff, yeah, we had the same thought – it always looks like such a lot to get rid of. However, the markets always appear stripped at the end of the day. This particular fish market is the largest in Korea (in the second largest city) and gets a huge amount of people through it everyday. I imagine a large percentage of the product goes to business as well.

      Oh the scallops were wonderful!

  2. This made even my mouth water, given that fish isnt something which usually makes me go yum, but it all looked so fresh and pretty :). Dont think I could pick a live fishy tho, I would be too sad to eat it!! xx

  3. I think there’s a gap in the New Zealand fish and chip market for your new business idea, Dan… When you come back to New Zealand, I expect to see you opening fish and chip restaurant/cafés with wet markets down on Thorndon Quay!

  4. Beautiful photos. Glorious sea creatures. Sigh.

  5. OMG! YUM!!!! Fresh scallooooooops. Yuuuuuum. Sounds so good right now! Thanks for checking out my blog! Love yours! It’s funny, I just hung out with a friend today who’s leaving this Thursday for Korea to try + teach English! I will forward your blog to her – she’ll learn a lot from it!

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