Noryangjin Fish Market – Workers at Dawn

Noryangjin Fish Market – Workers at Dawn


Noryangjin Fish Market is one of Korea’s
largest seafood markets, open 24/7, 365 days a year. Let’s zoom in on a day at the fish market,
the earliest start of a workday in Korea. Noryangjin Fish Market is located in Dongjak-gu,
Seoul. This place comes to life just after midnight
with trucks filled with seafood coming directly from the sea. A whopping 300 tons of marine products are
traded here every day, which is about 50% of metropolitan volumes of seafood. “I’m from Tongyoung. Sales are bad, so I only brought yellowtail
that is in season currently.” This is the auction house. All the marine products here are distributed
to local markets and restaurants through the auction process. The early morning auction starts at 1 o’clock
with four sub-auctions for the different types of seafood. The dealer is calling out for wholesale merchants. Apparently, spoken words aren’t very important
here. It’s numbers that matter. “Rather than just announcing prices, I shout
and make noises during the auction to add amusement and create a rhythm. This is to stimulate the highest bids possible.” There are 11 auction dealers and some 200
commission merchants in the market. Interestingly enough, all the participants
are wearing hats. “The main auctioneers wear black hats with
leaf patterns and the assistant salespeople wear blue hats. The assistant salespeople have the rights
to make purchases on behalf of middlemen. Only these certified agents can participate
in the auctions.” The highlight of the night starts at 3 am
with a live fish auction. The atmosphere is getting more intense with
wholesale merchants trying to buy the best live fish at the lowest price. The more the bidding, the more vibrant it
gets. All the auctions for the day ended around
6 am, just before dawn. The dealers and commission merchants can finally
relax. “The supplies are limited due to the cold
weather, but it’s not too bad.” Transactions take place immediately on-site,
and the retail dealers are getting ready for customers. “Our work schedule is the opposite of ordinary
people. We work from 11:30 p.m. to 9 a.m. and the
executives work till 11 a.m.” The market is composed of nearly 1,200 shops
with an abundant amount of marine products, including live and fresh fish, shellfish,
and deep-sea produce. Established in 1927 near Seoul Station, it
moved to its current home at Noryangjin in 1971. Over 2,000 people make a living here. The face of the market has changed over time,
but the bustling of diligent workers remains the same. “I’ve been working at the market for 33
years to educate my children and help them settle in life. ” “The harder I work, the more I earn. I enjoy it because I can earn quite a lot.” The market draws numerous customers throughout
the year. An average of 30,000 people visit daily with
sales of over 900- thousand us dollars. “Here, I can select any delicacy directly
out of the aquarium and at reasonable prices. The product is fresh, and the portions are
generous.” “The market offers very fresh seafood, probably
the freshest in Seoul.” This place is also a popular tourist spot. “We have many visitors from Hong Kong, Malaysia,
and Vietnam.” Customers choose live seafood from tanks and
see vendors slice up the fish. Prices vary by type of fish or seafood, season,
and by weight, but it’s still 20 to 30% cheaper than general restaurants. “In Japan, fish markets aren’t very accessible
to the general public. However, this market is open to everyone,
and customers can pick what they want to eat.” The market is facilitated with restaurants
where customers can go to eat the fresh seafood any way they prefer. Offering a wide range of fresh seafood, this
place is considered a must for foreign visitors who want to experience unique Korean food
culture. “Whether you like it or not, you can try testing…you
buy here in first floor, come back in the restaurant and they make you very good sushi
like this.” “Since Mongolia is a landlocked country, fresh
fish and seafood are rare. I’m really enjoying the raw fish. I want to bring all my Mongolian friends to
the market, so they can taste it.” Noryangjin Fish Market has been a part of
Korean culture for many years. The hard work and diligence ensure that the
legacy of the market continues as the rest of the country is asleep.

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