We weren’t about to trek all the way out to far southeast Seoul without getting our money’s worth, so following our exploration of the area around Geoyeo Station (거여역) we went a bit further east, to the last stop on the purple line’s south spur. A few weeks ago we were surprised to find a subway station set in the middle of a residential area at Jamwon, a first in the course of this project, but Macheon turned out to be another example, surrounded by unpainted two-lane streets, small shops, and low-rise brick apartment buildings. A number of people in hiking gear were coming and going – most likely on their way to or from nearby Cheonmasan (천마산), Geumamsan (금암산), or Cheongnyangsan (청량산) – and at Macheon Elementary School next to the station a bunch of kids were out on the playground practicing soccer and throwing baseballs against a concrete wall.
From Exit 1 we passed the small Gangdong Market (강동종합시장), where men called out the prices of fresh fruits, before arriving at the much larger Macheon Central Market (마천중앙시장). We were quite surprised, frankly, at just how big and bustling it was, considering the fact that it sat almost at the edge of town, but it was one of the biggest neighborhood markets we’ve come across and one of the busiest as well. Overhead, electric lanterns in the red-on-blue style of those put up around the city for the recent G-20 summit instead proclaimed ‘마천중앙시장’ and below a large crowd of people went about their Saturday business.
Liz and I strolled past a fishmonger, his knife sticking out of a cutting board that was simply a disc of smoothed out tree stump, and then down a small street with small shops on either side and temporary stalls set up in the middle.
These offered nuts and dried herbs; garlic, onions, and sweet potato; and candy and steamed ears of corn. Bundled up against the cold, there was also a pair of ajummas sitting behind a pile of chicken feet, both of them wrapped up in knit hats and scarves, one keeping an eye out for customers, the other having dozed off.
The market continued northeast through the streets, taking us by huge chunks of meat hanging in butcher shops, piles of chestnuts on plastic tarps, and big trays of glistening fish on ice. Bumping through the crowd of moms with strollers and grandparents out stocking pantries made me a bit peckish, and at the end of the market we stopped for the winter’s first hoddeok at an inviting stall and listened to the butcher next door give his best sales pitch to a rather skeptical shopper.
After leaving the market, we swung around to the east where a brand new development was going in on the extreme edge of town. A fair amount of construction equipment was coming and going to and from the new apartment towers in the distance, passing over the new road that had been built to reach it, packing a little more into the already crowded confines of the city.
Macheon Central Market (마천중앙시장)
Turn right immediately upon exiting and walk northwest