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Yongsan Shopping Guide- 10 Year Thread! - Upd 2/2013
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The Lemon



Joined: 11 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2003 7:01 pm    Post subject: Yongsan Shopping Guide- 10 Year Thread! - Upd 2/2013 Reply with quote

Lemon's Note: Most stores in Yongsan are closed on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of each month.
Revised February 2013

2/13: So this thread is 10 years old this year! Yongsan was a different place in 2003, and in many ways, has deteriorated as the market has moved online. The Yongsan stores that have survived have done so by doing a large amount of business as wholesalers or onlne through Gmarket or Interpark.

There are still anti-competitive, anti-consumer Yongsan sales practices that are ultimately self-defeating as they give reasons for shoppers to avoid the place and take their business online: no price-tags, and assuming the consumer doesn't know what the fair price is and quoting something exorbitant, particularly to waeguks they presume have just fallen out of the plane.

Any business model that's based on the assumption of consumer ignorance deserves to fail. For many Yongsan vendors, that's happening now.

Still, if you live in Seoul and want something electronic or computer-like, and want it now, or don't want to (or can't because of credit card or language barriers) use the online services, Yongsan fills a need. It's certainly cheaper than LotteMart or Emart or those HiMart, LG or Samsung stores.

I long ago left Korea to work elsewhere, but I'm back every year or two for family reasons. The updates are based on those semi-regular visits.

- Lemon, February 2013

=============

Questions about Yongsan (how to get there, what it's good for, how to get around) are frequent here. If you're not a regular shopper in Yongsan I hope you find this helpful. If you've any questions feel free to post them in the thread.

Yongsan is one of Asia's largest and most famous electronics districts. Koreans believe it to be the cheapest place to buy computers and accessories, cameras, DVD players, appliances, and stereos. It rivals (maybe surpasses) Pantip Plaza in Bangkok, Low Yat Plaza in Kuala Lumpur, Sim Lim Tower in Singapore, and Akihabara in Tokyo.

Before you go - Research Online
The better educated you are about the prices, and about what you want, the more success you'll have, and the more fairly you'll be treated (this is the same with buying a car or anything else). Research the prices back home (for North Americans, www.futureshop.ca and www.amazon.com are good benchmarks) and compare with prices on Korea's interpark.com and gmarket.co.kr. Many of the stores listed on those sites are online fronts of Yongsan shops.

Sometimes you can approach the real-life Yongsan shop to buy the thing they're selling on Interpark or Gmarket, but I've found them resistant to offering the same price as online. This makes no sense really - you're saving them shipping, and can give them money right there, live, in person - but it goes to show just how poor a deal in-person vs online shopping has become in Korea.

What and Where NOT to Buy
In the bad old days, non-computer goods were a terrible buy in Korea, owing to the country's strange market, import duties, brand name bling.. For example, a DVD player would cost *double* what it would be in the US, and a made-in-Korea Samsung 35mm camera would be *triple* the price the same camera would cost at Wal-Mart in Canada.

The situation has improved somewhat for non-computer items, but for these goods I'd strongly recommend shopping online if you have the time and Korean-language capability.

Don't expect good deals at the bright flourescent lit stores like Electroland, Technomart or the electronics shops in the new I'Park mall attached to Yongsan Station. I've long had a bias against those places and the used-car salesmen types who populate them. They seem set up for uneducated consumers who think because the store is "famous" they'll get a good deal. They are wrong. (Note, added Jan 2010 - this is still true! These places consistently suck. I was sent by my wife today to get a CD/MP3 player for her mom. The very best price in Yongsan at any of these appliance/stereo places was 85,000w, and that wasn't even a particularly good model. Insanity! Got one at an E-Mart for 45,000w that was much better. That's still more than the $35 it would cost at a WalMart in North America but it's not the apocalypse.)

If you do shop at one of those places, check online before you go so you'll know if you're being told the "special foreigner price". These stores are the Land of No Price Tags, a practice which is inherently anti-consumer. Also check E-mart. Note that the E-Mart in Yongsan Station DOES NOT SELL ELECTRONIC GOODS. Too bad.

Korean online prices for many non-computer goods are now as good or better than they are in the US. For example, a DivX-capable DVD player can be bought for 30,000w - that's $21US (Dec 2008), and is cheaper than what you'd pay at Wal-Mart or Target in the US. But I'd be surprised if you could get a price like that in Technomart - I saw prices more like 60-80,000w last weekend (December 2008). Online is your friend.

The guys at the real stores claim they can't match the on-line prices because the Internet-based ones "don't charge tax". Whether or not they're telling the truth is besides the point - brush up on your hangul reading and use the online sites, because that's where the best (legal) deals are.

If you're still in your home country as you read this and are thinking of buying an electronic product once you get to Korea, ask on this forum first if that's a smart thing to do. Depending on where you're from, you might be better off buying it at home before you come.

What to Buy
Computer goods can be a real bargain if you've done some research and know where to go. Blank DVDs, mice, keyboards, speakers, and computer components (as well as assembled systems) are Yongsan's forte.

Digital cameras used to be poor bargains in Korea, but the situation has gotten better. See the separate Digital Camera/Camcorder thread for more. The best choices are the grey market shops around Namdaemun or online (probably the same shops, in fact). Yongsan is not a great place for cameras, price-wise. Research first!
________________________


How to Get There

Yongsan Station
On the subway, you have two choices. The dark blue #1 line stops at Yongsan station, just two stops down from Seoul Station. Yongsan station is new (2004) and has a pretty nice mall by Korean mall standards (I'Park), though the electronics section is 100 percent markup territory.

Follow the signs for "Yongsan Electronics Market" to get out of the station complex, and through the walkway that crosses the Korea Rail tracks, connecting to a long blue glass shopping center that used to be a bus terminal. Here you'll find more computer, camera and electronic shops, but don't get too excited - better deal await further on.

These centers follow the same general layout: the lower floors sell appliances and home entertainment goods, and digital cameras. The higher floors sell computer goods. Give the computer stores a miss - head to Sunin Plaza (details below) for that. A further pedestrian overpass directs shoppers towards Electroland. This used to be a neat place to walk around, or shop for consumer electronics at, but has fallen on hard times as people have finally figured out that buying online is cheaper and actually a lot more pleasant than dealing with the crooks. The digital camera stores throughout the bottom level are ok for looking around, but you'll probably do better at the stores in Namdaemun, or online. The salespeople tend to be a bit high pressure/used car salesman-y.

Shinyongsan Station
On the light blue #4 line, this is my prefered way to get to Yongsan. You exit from the left side of the north end of the station (follow the signs to "Yongsan Electronics Market"). You'll walk down a street towards a pedestrian tunnel that goes under the main Korea Rail tracks.

For many years there was a guy in this tunnel selling illegal software with a smoke in one hand and a cellphone in the other. As of January 2010, he's gone. What did him in? Microsoft Korea? The smokes? It could have been that people wanting illegal software figured out that they could download torrented software for cheaper (ie free) than paying him his 10,000w/CD.

Sunin (So nin) Plaza
When you emerge from the tunnel, you're at Sunin Plaza. It looks like this:
http://blogs.yahoo.co.jp/pcjunkees/50062136.html
It's a sprawling rectangle-shaped labyrinth that specializes in computers and computer parts and looks like it needs a good washing. This is Geekmart. This is the best retail place in Korea to buy new and used computer goods.

Before you enter, if it's a Saturday (or sometimes, Sundays), walk around to the front of the building. There you'll find an outdoor market. Prices are good here as long as you're comfortable with the fly-by-night nature of buying from someone without a fixed shop.

As you shop in Sunin Plaza, you'll notice many of the stores *do* display prices. This is a new thing - 15 years ago, you always had to ask, and that got tedious as well as put the foreign shopper at risk of getting a "special foreigner price". There is much less risk of this in 2010, but you're still smart to check online first for an idea of the correct price, and try not to buy from the first store. I've found the prices to be somewhat negotiable, but only barely. It doesn't hurt to ask politely.

Most of the stores in Sunin are pretty much the same, and they sell all-new goods, which is a little frustrating if you're looking for something that you saw there 6 months ago - given the volumes of stuff sold here, it's likely all gone, old news. However, there's a hallway at the back of the building and to the left (when entering from the main doors) that specializes in used computer stuff (as does the hallway directly above it). Here the used stuff usually carries price tags. Get the shop guy to test whatever used piece you're buying first - they usually don't mind.

If you are putting together a cheaper system for internet and word processing work, this is the place to hit. Already assembled frankenstein systems from used parts are also a good deal. In 2010, 300,000w can get you a decent (used part) Pentium 4 or above desktop system and 19 inch LCD monitor.


Mac Goods
Pickings are poor here for Mac products, but there is a store in Electroland, "Mac Club", that caters to that segment of society.

Bargaining
When bargaining, be polite. Smile a lot. Have a sense of humour. Be sure to thank people in a friendly way when they give you a quote, even if you're going to walk away. Treat everyone well, as it's the decent thing to do, and you may be back someday. They might remember you. You may be back even sooner, if you discover their price is better than anyone else's.

If you agree on a price, you're obligated to buy. Don't try to negotiate further.

Advice
If you're asking for an item and the store guy gives you the "opsoyyo" answer, depending on how friendly he is, he can still be helpful to you. If your communication skills are good, you can try asking him, "where can I find it?", or even better, "how much should I pay for it?" Because he's not selling it himself, he's likely to quote you a price close to what you could reasonably expect to pay, rather than the inflated "special foreigner price".

I've been a repeat customer of specific stores that have treated me fairly. I'm happy to give them my business, and I also trust their advice when I'm shopping for something they don't have. It pays on both your end and theirs to be friendly and polite. This is especially the case in the Sunin non-Electroland parts type shops - they tend to be less salesman-y.

Credit Cards
If you try to use a credit card, expect them to want to add on 5% to the negotiated price, or more. Technically, this is illegal, but it's common practice at many Korean stores. If you must use a credit card, tell them that at the beginning of negotiations. It might be worth your while to pay the lower cash price.

Cash
You can find ATMs in Sunin Plaza (Industrial Bank), Electroland (Kookmin?) and the bus terminal mall (Foreign Exchange Bank).


Last edited by The Lemon on Mon Feb 04, 2013 10:14 am; edited 27 times in total
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kimcheeking
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PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2003 9:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very nice instructions lemon. Great lemon-aide. You d'man.
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Harpeau



Joined: 01 Feb 2003
Location: In Hannam-dong, Seoul.

PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2003 2:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great Lemon-aid. Went down well.

Play hard!
Harpeau
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The Cube



Joined: 01 Feb 2003

PostPosted: Fri May 16, 2003 4:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

..

Last edited by The Cube on Sun Dec 07, 2008 4:26 pm; edited 1 time in total
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The Lemon



Joined: 11 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Fri May 16, 2003 4:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cube:

The retailers may have connections that will allow them to sell you a laptop with legal English XP on it without adding to the price. That you'll be buying the "most advanced model" will give them incentive to make you happy.

English manuals for the hardware are less likely, depending on the brand. If it's a domestic brand like Trigem (TG) that only markets to Koreans, it's unlikely the documentation will be in English. You may have more luck with Samsung, which offers similar brands (if not the same) overseas, in which case the manual's just a PDF download away. Most stuff I buy here has Korean-only manuals, including my laptop. It doesn't bother me much.

Buy the way, though I'm generally positive about buying computer stuff in Korea, and Yongsan in particular, notebooks are the one product that aren't that great a deal here. For one thing, they're absurdly overpriced compared to what they run back home, unlike desktop stuff. The second problem is the warranty issue. It's unlikely that the Korean warranty will be honoured in your home country if/when you return.


Last edited by The Lemon on Fri May 13, 2005 11:50 pm; edited 2 times in total
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different



Joined: 22 May 2003

PostPosted: Thu May 29, 2003 12:54 am    Post subject: Do the salesmen speak English? Reply with quote

I want to buy a videocamera, this weekend if possible. Do the salesmen at this place speak English? Will I have to negotiate? How do the prices and selection compare to Techno Mart?
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The Lemon



Joined: 11 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Thu May 29, 2003 1:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Will I have to negotiate?


I haven't hidden my bias against Technomart, but I do believe you'll get a better deal in Yongsan than at TM, even for camcorders, though they're not Yongsan's strong point. Yes, you will have to negotiate. The chances of finding an English speaking salesperson is about 20 percent. I do all my negotiating in Korean - doesn't take long to learn Yongsan Korean.

Try the main floor of Electroland, and the floor above it (I think). Don't look at Japanese brands, but rather, the Korean ones because of import duties (not that it matters - the Canon camcorder I bought in Canada two years ago turned out to be made in Korea). You're going to pay more for a camcorder here than you would in your home country- might as well resign yourself to that now - but I believe Yongsan is the best place within Korea for what you want.

If you get the chance, also check out an E-mart and a Hi-mart and see what they want for one, and use that as a benchmark. If the guys in Yongsan can't beat E-mart's price, tell them to go pound sand.

Good luck!
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different



Joined: 22 May 2003

PostPosted: Thu May 29, 2003 4:37 pm    Post subject: Thank you Reply with quote

That's very helpful. Thank you!
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sickboy



Joined: 26 Jan 2003
Location: Miari Texas

PostPosted: Sun Jun 01, 2003 3:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bill, did you get the procedure done?
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mrroboto



Joined: 29 Mar 2003

PostPosted: Thu Jun 05, 2003 7:16 pm    Post subject: Yongsan Guide Reply with quote

Thanks a ton for the guide Lemon, I printed out maps and used them to get exactly where I wanted to go. Turns out I'd been about a block away from the real deals the times I'd came before.

Ended up leaving with a 52X burner, new speakers and a spindle of 50 CDRs for 97,000 won (58, 20 and 19 respectively). It's too bad I hadn't bought my whole computer there instead of in Busan Very Happy

Anyways, thanks buddy!
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applepie



Joined: 30 May 2003

PostPosted: Fri Jun 27, 2003 5:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thursday night I followed lemons guide and bought some software from the guy in the tunnel. Actually there were three guys and I went to the one in the middle of the tunnel - cause he was cheaper. Anyhow, I got my windows XP (with Multilanguage pack) home and it wouldn't work. I went back to the guy and explained that the disc was crashing my system. He then went and got me a new CD, and that one works fine.

Pretty good service. Pirates who do exchanges - who would've thought. Needless to say I'm very happy.
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mrroboto



Joined: 29 Mar 2003

PostPosted: Tue Jul 08, 2003 5:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lemon, any word on where to find the cheapest MP3s? A co-worker bought a 128mb key-chain style player for 150,000 a couple months ago..
I'm looking for 256-512 mb.. just buy it anywhere in Yongsan?
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gilgamesh



Joined: 17 Jun 2003
Location: Always just more than an arms reach from where I want to be... well, Seoul actually.

PostPosted: Wed Jul 09, 2003 11:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

LCD Monitors...

Are they cheap over there?? I have a 15" one which I am thinking about bringing with me (doesn't take up much space). Is it worth bringing it??

Cheers
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The Lemon



Joined: 11 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Wed Jul 09, 2003 2:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Lemon, any word on where to find the cheapest MP3s? A co-worker bought a 128mb key-chain style player for 150,000 a couple months ago..
I'm looking for 256-512 mb.. just buy it anywhere in Yongsan?


They sell them everywhere, BUT, I think they're a ripoff.

Assuming you have a computer with burner (40x burners are 40,000w these days) you can use an MP3-CD player instead, carrying 700mb of songs with you in one go. They go for 100,000~150,000w. The Iriver ones are the best. Size-wize they're pretty small these days too.

For a good overview of prices of both solid-state and CD-based MP3 players, look at this site (Korean):
http://www.mpnavi.com/
They offer a few memory-based players for 120~140,000 (128mb).


Quote:
LCD Monitors...

Are they cheap over there?? I have a 15" one which I am thinking about bringing with me (doesn't take up much space). Is it worth bringing it??

Cheers


Sadly, no, not cheap here. I just bought a 15" one two months ago for about 350,000w - the cheapest ones cost just under 300,000w. You should bring yours with you. One of the great advantages of them is that they're so small and easy to ship. If you pack it well (I'd be a bit nervous about that... they're fragile) you'll do a lot better than buying a new one here.

The power supply is likely dual-voltage as well (mine is.. check the line-wart box), so you'll just need a 50cent plug to make it fit in the wall here.
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mrroboto



Joined: 29 Mar 2003

PostPosted: Wed Jul 09, 2003 7:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

hmm, alright I'll go hunting this weekend. I've got the burner, but the small size of the Memory-based players is nice. Could take it snowboarding/jogging/etc
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