Children’s Clothing in Seoul
Ah, Korea. You’ve taught us expats so many things: from how blood types can influence personality traits, to how kimchi can cure almost every known physical ailment under the sun. However, there is still one thing that those of us who are a little vain still struggle with: we were never as well-dressed as we thought we were back home. Simply a walk through Gangnam station at rush hour can attest to this. As we hang our heads in shame, watching impossibly beautiful people strut by on their way to or from work, a final blow to our ego hits us when we see the outfits of some Korean children. Yes, it’s true – Korean kids dress better than most expats.
So what’s their secret? Where do these stylish children buy their duds? (Or rather, where do their parents buy them?). Children’s clothes are easy to find in Seoul. As long as you know the size for the lucky little one you’re shopping for (see the Size Conversion Charts), then you’ll be good to go. However, sizes often fluctuate depending on the brand, so to be extra sure, it’s best to bring along a measuring tape to see if the garment will really fit. Not all stores will allow for clothes to be tried on either.
Here are some places to visit when shopping for children’s clothes in Seoul:
Above are some of Seoul’s most popular shopping districts. Namdaemun (center) and Dongdaemun (top right) are both featured in this article.
Dongdaemun is Korea’s largest shopping center. Comprised of several indoor and outdoor markets, malls, restaurants, wholesale and retail vendors, if you can’t find what you’re looking for in Dongdaemun, well, maybe it’s time to stop looking. Just try to avoid going on a Monday or Tuesday; that’s when most stores we’ve listed are closed. Wednesday and Thursday are the slow days, so go then if you want to score a good deal and shop with a little more elbow space. Most stores open around 10:30am and close at 05:00 in the morning.
Often referred to in Konglish as “shopping malls” or “department stores”, these complexes are comprised of several floors filled with countless clothing stalls stacked tightly against each other (and no changing rooms). It’s basically a giant indoor market. These markets don’t always display prices, so it’s good to keep a calculator handy just in case. You and the merchant can pass it back and forth to bargain.
Hello apM: Closed Tuesday
Aside from a fantastic “English” name which implies this place is open at all hours (a major feature of this market), Hello apM has some of the best deals around Dongdaemun. However, if you feel awkward bartering, just skip it – there are no fixed prices around here, and if you ask a merchant how much an item is, they’re going to inflate the price (especially if you’re foreign). The kids section is located on the sixth floor, along with maternity wear and some general accessory stalls. Located 100m from Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Exit 14.
Good Morning City: Closed Tuesday
Good Morning City is one of the newer kids on the block in Dongdaemun. In fact, the market’s not even completely finished being built yet. However, the fourth floor, which has children’s and junior’s clothing, is fully operational. As well, Good Morning City is connected directly to the Dongdaemun History & Culture Park station’s Exit 14.
Doota! Closed Monday
Unlike the other indoor markets, prices are mostly fixed at Doota. However, like many shops in Korea, if you buy lots of things the owner might give you “service” and throw in an extra item for free. Some vendors will let you buy clothes off the rack, while others will custom make them for you. Children’s shops can be found on the sixth floor, along with maternity wear and a nursing room. Some recommend browsing Doota for pieces that appeal to you, then heading to the cheaper markets (Migliore, Goodmorning City, Hello ampM) to buy the same thing for less. Located near Dongdaemun Station Exit 5.
Namdaemun is a bustling market filled with almost every good you could imagine. From live squid to generic brand skin whitening creams and some of the best street food in Seoul, Namdaemun is a lovably chaotic mix of Korea’s most unique products.
You’ll be able to find stores catered solely towards children’s clothing, as well as small market stalls selling specialized items like hair accessories, toys, or socks. While custom-made adult hanboks /헌복 (traditional Korean clothing) can cost anywhere from 150,000KRW-700,000KRW, cheaper children’s hanboks can be purchased for a fraction of that cost at Namdaemun. Ready-made kid’s hanboks cost only 50,000KRW-200,000KRW. Some tourists like to buy them as souvenirs and frame them when they get home, so even after the little one grows out of it, it’ll make lovely wall art.
Below are some popular children’s clothing stores in Namdaemun:
Won Children’s Wear
Leave Exit 7 of Hoehyeon Station. Walk straight for about a minute, then turn left at the Outback Steakhouse. Walk down that street (which is behind Shinsegae Department Store) until you see the big Mesa store on your left. Turn down that street; walk for a couple minutes and Won Children’s Wear will be on your left.
After you finish at Won Children’s Wear, continue down the main street. You’ll find MAMA on your left. It has two floors filled with many of the same clothes that are in Won Children’s Wear.
Mesa store, located directly outside Exit 7, is a multi-level indoor clothing market. Clothes for babies, infants, and kids can be easily found here, as well as maternity wear.
Burdeng Children’s Shopping Center
Burdeng, one of the largest children’s clothing stores in Korea, is located near Hoehyon’s Exit 5. Most vendors accept credit cards. Hours vary depending on the vendor. Be sure to pick up a map at the info desk so you can find your way around the stalls.
The area surrounding these shops nearby Exit 7 is filled with baby and kid stores. Walk around and explore for a bit – don’t be scared to go up the stairs of a building and get lost, that’s the whole point of Namdaemun.
If the little one you’re shopping for has more expensive tastes, then a trip to a department store may be in order. The three main department stores in Korea are Hyundai, Shinsegae, and Lotte. Each of them carries international brands like Persnickety or Room Seven. These are the places to go if you’ve got a lot of dough to drop (as in 40,000KRW for a kid’s headband). If your wee one has a tendency to be a bit rowdy, then consider leaving them with the babysitter for this shopping trip – while there’s certainly nothing wrong with wearing Chanel, having to pay for a knocked over display is another story!
Kid’s clothes can also be easily found in the many E-Marts, Lotte Marts, and Home Pluses that fill Korea. The prices are midrange and the clothes are fairly generic. If you’re really looking for a deal, you’d be better off visiting Dongdaemun or Namdaemun. However, if the idea of bartering really scares you or seems like too much of a hassle, stick to the box stores. You’ll be missing out on some great deals, though!
If you’re outside of the Seoul area, shopping online for the same styles you could find in the big city is an option. Most sites are in Korean-only, so you’ll need a Korean friend to help you out.
This site carries various Korean educational and cultural items for kids, as well as hanboks.
This site doesn’t just carry stylish clothes for adults. They’ve got a huge kids section with unbeatable discounts (we’re talking in the range of 70% off).
This site is for the little girls. Styles here are preppy, chic, and girly - not for the tomboys!
Comishop has modern, edgy, and preppy clothes for whatever style the kid on your list is rocking these days. Best of all, they even have a “Mom” section!
Gabrielle interned as a Content Creator for Work'n'Play during her exchange trip to Chung-Ang University in 2012-2013. She graduated from Vancouver Island University in May 2014 with her BA in Global Studies. She is now a Master's student at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs in Ottawa, Canada. The things she misses most about her year in Korea are: going for makgeolli + jeon with friends, exploring Seoul's new and old hidden treasures and getting to practice Korean every day. You can connect with her on Twitter at @MsGabrielle or email her at email@example.com.