My mom and I went to Moran Sijang today and I'm still slightly traumatized. Having shopped at the open markets in Namdaemun, Dongdaemun, and a few neighborhood spots, I thought I understood what sijang is. Dang, was I ignorant.
Moran Market is a true Korean outdoor marketplace. This is where the natives go, yo. The market was bustling with ajummas, ajusshis, halmonis, and harabojis, all looking to pick up some produce, fish, dried foods, flowers, extra large underwear, or transistor radios. I saw absolutely no foreigners, not even gyopos. My mom and I definitely stuck out. I was literally the youngest shopper there.
According to my mom, this is how they used to shop back in her day, and yet, she still seemed taken aback. The primary reason for our discomfort was the line of cages that greet you towards the entrance of the market. These cages were filled with chickens, goats, and dogs for you know what... Heng had mentioned that you could buy dogs at Moran Shijang, but I thought she meant puppies! Not dogs for you know what...
If you take a look at my video, I was ignorantly filming some chickens when I suddenly noticed a cage of dogs. I feel like crying just thinking about them. I had to walk with my big Gap tote in front my face in order to shield my eyes from the line of cages until we were able to exit from that alleyway. I'm trying not to be judgmental, after all, I still eat pigs and cows, but such a sight makes me feel very sad and disappointed.
Seeing livestock so up and close makes me want to become a seafoodatarian. I've occasionally thought about only eating food that I could personally hunt and gather (i.e., seafood and vegetables), but I just love gogi to much and veggies too little. Bacon, hamburgers, fried chicken, meatloaf, steak, samgyupsal, deep fried turkey... it's gonna be hard for me to covert, but I'll definitely try...
The Moran Shijang is only open a few days a month, but thanks to Heng and Kwak-kun Oppa, we learned that the market was open today. My mom was able to pick up dried squid, sesame candy, Korean rice krispy treats, dried anchovies, and some scary looking dried fish, called daegu. My mom says that daegu sells for over $100 a piece in Hawaii. Yowza. She paid man-won per fish. Good deal.
I'm glad that I got to experience an authentic Korean market, but I don't think I'll ever feel the urge to go back. I prefer to get my groceries from a matu, even if it is overpriced. To be honest, Korean open markets are not for everyone. Don't go bringing your visiting relatives from Podunk, Idaho. The sights and smells may be a little too hard to take in if you're just visiting. Stick to Namdaemun instead.
The market is also surrounded by a lot of evangelists -- representing both Christian and Buddhist sects. I have no problem with your desire to share your faith, but don't go and shout in my face with your little a/v system and tell me that all non-Christians will go to hell or that I should buy your Buddhist charm for good luck.
Want a virtual tour of Moran Market? Check out the video. (If you don't want to see the cages, skip the first 25 seconds.)
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