Some of my favorite places in both neighborhoods we lived in Korea were the corner markets. There is a 7-Eleven, FamilyMart or a MiniStop on every corner of Korea.
But if you have a mom and pop corner market, it’s pure gold.
From the very first day we arrived in Korea and accidentally bought a very large (think 10 kilogram) bag of salt thinking it was rice, the charming bucolic Korean couple who owned the place loved us. Maybe they loved us for our stupidity, or the the fact that we always made them giggle at our purchases.
This couple spoke no English, but we communicated on a daily basis with smiles, laughs, polite Korean gestures (like paying with your right hand and holding your right elbow with your left hand) and basic Korean civilities.
They met my parents, when they came to visit. They gave us free food. They waved to us anytime they saw us out on the street. They chuckled with us, at us, and because of our clumsy Korean. They accepted packages for us. And they simply made us feel welcome.
When we moved out of the neighborhood, we went back through occasionally and signed and spoke what little Korean we could to explain we moved. They smiled, chuckled, giggled. Eyes grinning.
These places are a pure Korean experience. Next time you’re trying to decide between 7-Eleven and the one with the long name in Korean, go into the one where the woman with permed hair is probably watching her soaps and giggling when you walk in. You won’t be sorry.
Soon after we first discovered the market, we made this video.