Big super markets such as Lotte-mart or e-mart in Korea are also known as “mega marts”. They are usually located in a huge shopping area, with a lot of parking lots. And there you can find almost everything. Basically, their concepts are same as concepts of western super markets, but here are for me the biggest 5 differences:
5. Korean products
Of course, nowhere else should have more Korean products than in Korea itself.
For example Kimchi. Here you will find a lot of Kimchi, one of the most beloved dishes of Koreans, in all variants, fermentation levels and size.
Well, I’ve seen fresh fishes in western supermarkets, but rarely alive fishes.
4. Tasting booths
At every corner of the mega markets, you can see ladies in apron standing next to a booth, shouting something in Korean, while cooking or preparing something. Here you can taste different samples of food, such as chips, candies, cookies, Kimchi, seaweed leaves, but also samgyeopsal (삼겹살) – grilled pork belly, Sashimi freshly cut from an octopus; or drinks like tea, soft drinks, juices, and even Soju (소주) – the most famous Korean alcohol.
Talking with friends living in Korea, they said, if you’re alone and don’t want to go to the restaurant, just come to a mega mart, try to taste all food and drinks there. Your stomach will definitely be full, and you may even get drunk afterwards. Wanna try out yourself?
3. Integrated food court
Yes! That’s right! You will find different kind of street food directly in the mega mart. When you’re still hungry after tasting everything for free, you can have a seat and order some fish cake or a bowl noodles, eat and have a rest, before continuing your shopping.
2. Self packing zone
If you forget your shopping bag at home, or you’ve bought too much, that you need another bag, instead of buying a new bag, you can use the “Self packing zone” behind the cashier. There are empty cartons in all sizes, tape and enough space for you to pack all your items before leaving.
1. Tax refund / Tax free for foreigners*
At the cashier, I’ve notice that there are promotion about tax refund / tax free for foreigners. If you pay somewhat between KRW 30.000 and 200.000 (25~160€), you can have the tax (~10%) back immediately, after showing your passport. If you buy more than KRW 100.000 and less than 1.000.000, you can get tax refund at the airport.
It’s very convenient, isn’t it.
*Please check the information of the market you will visit in advance about latest terms and conditions for Tax refund / tax free shopping.