If you are planning to go to South Korea then Busan's Jagalchi Fish Market definitely needs to be on your list. Jagalchi is the largest fish market in Korea and definitely worth visiting and perhaps eating some really fresh fish.
After the Korean War, the market solidified itself as a fish market. Most of the people who sell fish are women, they are called Jagalchi Ajumma. ‘Ajumma’ which means ''middle-aged'' or ''married woman'' in Korean.
The market is very famous within Korea and very good place to have a look in the daily life of Busan’s local residents.
The western section of the market mainly deals with live and freshly caught seafood. Fish and shellfish are caught daily and sold fresh to consumers, almost right off the boat. The area is lined with tanks containing all sorts of fish, eels, squid, shellfish, and mollusks. Some areas have workers preparing the seafood for long term storage. You can watch as the fish get scaled, beheaded, chopped up, and dumped in a box of ice, all in record time.
You can eat here fresh raw fish that came right from the sea. On the first floor, there is an area where they prepare the fish for you and you can enjoy your meal with a beautiful view of the harbor.
A famous local dish is Sannakji Hoe (산낙지 회). It consists of nakji (낙지, a small octopus) which is cut into small pieces while still alive and served immediately, usually lightly seasoned with sesame and sesame oil. The nakji pieces are usually still squirming on the plate when served. Although we always try local dishes, the thought of eating tentacles which still moved on your plate was quite horrific. From the fish market, we chose an octopus and went with our bagged octopus upstairs where we gave it to a cook who prepared the horror meal for us.
The eastern part of the market is dedicated to dried seafood. This is Korea's largest wholesale market for dried fish and seafood, here you can find dried squid, octopus, seaweed, anchovies, pollack, and codfish brought from all over the peninsula.
Jagalchi Fish Market (자갈치시장)
52 Jagalchihaean-to, Jung-gu, Busan, South Korea
8:00 am to 10:00 pm
* Closed every first and third Tuesday of the month.
How to get there
The easiest way to go to the market is to take the metro. Take the line 1, exit 10. Turn right into Jagalchi 3 (sam)-gill street, walk for 5 minutes then turn left to arrive at Jagalchi Fish Market.
There is no entrance fee. If you buy some fish they will prepare it for you for around 4000 W (+/- €3,20) per person, this includes drinks and small snacks.
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Have you been to the Busan Fishmarket and ate some raw octopus or you had another weird food story? Leave us a comment!