Namdaemun Market is the largest market in Korea and sells a large variety of different goods. Established in 1964, it is still going strong over 50 years later! Namdaemun is open from 11 pm – 5 pm (5 pm the next day, the market runs through the night. Info from here). The market sells nearly anything you could want, and everything from clothes to stationary to cameras, is sold here.
The market is located near Hoehyeon station (line 4, near Seoul Station). Taking different exits will lead you to different parts of the market. Exits 6 and 7 are usually the best exits to get straight into the market. Here is a map with more detailed locations.
The market is full of both new and used goods, and also fresh food. The market is also very clean and appeals to nearly every visitor to Korea. If you visit Namdaemun, expect to see a large number of tourists and many shop-keepers who speak at least a little English.
If you can’t speak Korean, there is no need to worry! While not everyone in Namdaemun speaks English, most of the shop-keepers speak a little. However, if they don’t, then there are always other ways to communicate and when I visited there a few years ago I never had any trouble communicating (when I knew almost no Korean).
I personally visit Namdaemun to purchase camera gear. Yongsan market is much better for electronics, but Namdaemun is better if you specifically want cameras. There is a wide variety of gear (both new and second-hand), and it is usually reasonably priced. If you want Nikon, Canon, or Sony, this market will have you covered! However, some of the smaller brands such as Fuji and Olympus are not well represented.
When purchasing expensive goods, make sure to be cautious. I have never had bad experiences when buying items here, but it always pays to be careful. Check the going prices on Amazon (or whatever site you prefer), and always barter. It’s pretty standard to get a couple of hundred dollars off your purchase.
However, something to keep in mind is that cash purchases for big goods in Namdaemun are far preferable. If you purchase with a credit card you will get a 10% tax (which when purchasing something worth a few thousand dollars, can be a big price). But obviously, it’s not good to walk around with $2000 in your pocket either. To prevent this, there are many banks around (usually every store is close to one), where you can withdraw cash to spend.
Namdaemun is one of the most popular attractions in Seoul, and for good reason. Whenever you plan on visiting the market, you should expect it to be quite crowded for this reason. Much of Seoul is extremely modern and cutting-edge these days, but places like Namdaemun show how much more diverse and varied Seoul really is.