Myeongdong - Buying Cosmetics and Enjoying Korean Culture (and More)

"Myeongdong? That's a place for tourists, not for Koreans. The shop assistants don't even look at us," said my Korean friend when I told her about one of my first trips after arriving to Seoul. She's right. Every single store there has staff speaking Chinese, Japanese and a tiny bit of English and they're trained to pull people in stores in any possible way. Sometimes literally. I'm still in a slight shock from being grabbed by a shop girl and literally dragged inside the store - I was so annoyed I kept the sample she forced onto me and didn't buy anything. This happened on a very non-busy day though, when most stores were totally empty. That is a very rare sight, since most days, the streets are so crowded it's hard to walk and shops are so full it's difficult to get back to the door from the cashier. The highest concentration of people is near the station and it decreases as one walks towards Euljiro and Jongno.

Now, what can you find in Myeongdong?

1) Cosmetics
That's what most people come there for - shopping in Myeongdong, you score the highest amount of free samples (though the mythical days of receiving two free sheet masks just for coming inside the store are long gone - now sometimes they even give people fake samples at the entrance and after paying swap them for real ones - so strange, right?) - you always get samples when you buy something and more generous stores (or more desperate ones) give away samples also at the entrance if you agree to visit the store. There seem to be sales and events going on all the time as well, but at times I've seen better promotion events in E Mart and Lotte. I think most Korean brands have their own stand-alone shop in Myeongdong, or even several branches - so it's the easiest place to go to to stock up on cosmetics. Most of them offer a tax refund slip for purchases over 30 000 Won.


Nature Republic serum with free toner and emulsion and qet it beauty endorsed mask as a gift.

Peripera shimmering body balm with UV filter and free cotton pads.

Beyond hair mask with free shampoo and conditioner (the samples were enough to last for 5 weeks), nailpolish set and free skincare samples.

Nature Republic blemish patches and free mask.

Etude House hair treatment, bleckhead rmeoving strip and tons of free samples.

Tony Moly mist and free mask.

Holika Holika peeling, mascara and crazy amount of gifts: eye pencil, two masks and several samples.

Freebies compiled - Of course as a girl I love the amount of freebies you get while shopping. As somebody studying packaging, the design makes me smile and the amount of packaging waste makes me cry.

Beyond hand creams, face cream and BB cushion - and free travel set, toner and another BB cushion.

SAEM free mask - didn't buy anthing because I was angry for being literally dragged inside the store.

Innisfree hand cream and nail polish remover with free samples. In theory, one could argue that the samples prevent people from buying products they haven't tried that might not suit them and end up in the trash bin, therefore leading to less wasted product. Still, the companies use way too much plastic to package the samples (considering the amount of liquid inside) and they could think about using multilayer plastic/paper material to reduce the environemntal impact...

Not-sure-what-brand hair mist and free pads.

Nature Republic shoe freshener, makeup remover and free samples and masks.

Freebies compiled.

2) Clothes and accessories
I haven't really shopped there for these but my colleagues said Myeongdong has prety reasonable shops both underground at the station and above the ground.

The closest Le Bunny Bleu shop I could find to Meyongdong was at the Jonggak station (underground). This brand is not Korean, but it is quite widespread, especially in Seoul and has many cute designs. I can't say anything bad about the store - the shop assitant was very sweet and helpful and tried really hard to talk with me in English. But what I have an issue with is the quality of the shoes. Bunny Bleu is not a cheap brand - the flats I bought were around 30 - 40 Euros, which is a medium price. They lasted for 4 months. I admit I walk a lot (sometimes 10 km a day), but only in cities. It's not like I tried to climb mountains in them. Let's say an average person walks 1/3 to 1/4 of what I do - then you get a lifetime of the shoes to be a little over 1 year! I read on other blogs positive praise of the shoes and how long lasting they were, but my experience is very different. And it's not only minor scratches and faded colour - the soles literally deglued from the shoes.

I swear you don't want to see photos of how the shoes look like now...

A slightly mroe expensive store in Myeongdong selling the popular cartoon handbags.

Pop-up sale of shoes - they were 3000 Won (2.5 Euros) a pair and the vendour was there only for 2 days. They lasted about the same amount of time as the Bunny bleu shoes... and actually are still in a slightly better condition than the flats. I'd been to Myeongdong several times, but I only saw this pop-up stall once, possibly because that time I came on weekend. Who knows, you might be lucky too!

These hair bows are actually from Hongdae, but you can get pretty much the same style in Myeongdong too. Accessories in Korea (those made in Korea) are not particularly cheap, but the prices then at least correspond to real manufacturing cost in Korea - the small bow was about 3000 Won and the big one 5000.

3) Food
Just as any place with lots of tourists, Myeongdong has plenty of street food and ice cream as well as cafes.

4) Seoul Global Cultural Center
Be sure to follow their FB page for free or subsidized events! I've seen a free musical, took part in concert tickets lottery and missed (because of my work schedule) summer k-beauty make up tutorial.

 5) K Pop Stores

Apparently, there are also stores selling K pop CDs and other idol-related stuff.

6) Daiso
The biggest Daiso I've seen in Korea so far was by the Jonggak station - it had 5 floors! There's a smaller one in Myeongdong too.
Sheets for DIY sheet masks - you can soak them in toner or lotion (Asian ones only - they have a different function than European ones and mainly smoothen and nourish the skin) or a home-made liquid mixture. Usually 500 - 1000 Won.

Pocket mirrors

Anna Sui-like makeup pad dispensers. 2000 Won.

Nail transfers - 1000 - 2000 Won

Anime paper folders - 1000 Won.

Passport and card cases - 1000 Won

Page markers - 1000 won

Bento boxes

If you need small packages of things (washing liquid and paper towels), Daiso is more likely to have them than big marts.

Lab notebook, cooling pack and green tea blotting paper. The cooling pack is quite useless and I bought the oil blotting paper as a gift, so I'm not sure how it works.

Washing net and toothbrush protectors with "Jewel from the Palace" characters. 1000 Won each.

Hair rollers (1000/package), sunscreen for my body (3000 Won - I thought that was plenty enough good for my body, I buy more expensive ones for my face) and one of the sheets.

 7) Strolls

Yours truly


  1. Nice post and the pictures are cool!

  2. To beru skoro jako atentát dávat sem takový skvělý a lákavý fotky se slevama

  3. so many things! I think I would fell quite overwhelmed there!

  4. To vypadá skvěle! Tyjo, takových dárků k tomu, že si něo koupíš, čeští obchodníci by se třeba mohli inspirovat :D a závidím ti to Etude House!

    1. V tomhle je Korea nepředčitelná, u Beyond jsem v podstatě dostala víc, než jsem si koupila O___o.

  5. Omg i would be so in Heaven *^* so much Cosmetics! I would buy alot from etude house and holika holika <3

    1. It's seriously a heaven for beauty addicts :)

  6. Nádhera, opět závidím všechny Tvé úlovky.. a nejvíc kosmetiku ve zvířátkových obalech. :D

    1. Přísahám, že udělám giveaway na čínský nový rok :)

  7. I think mimicking popular posts on other blogs is one of the best ways to get a good idea which will be popular.Such a lovely blog you have shared here with us. Really nice.
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