On a recent trip to Busan, I found myself fixated on the idea of visiting Jagalchi Fish Market. I knew absolutely nothing about the market but a few weeks earlier had spotted it as a tiny dot on a map and ever since, had an intense desire to explore it. I learned, once visiting the market and subsequently reading its history, that Jagalchi is the largest seafood market in all of Korea and was established as the Korean War ended.
The market proved fascinating, with one booth after another offering squirming varieties of every kind of live seafood imaginable, tables of dried squid and fish carcasses, bowls of live sea urchins, and hot griddles with today’s catch fried and ready to eat. After winding my way through the outdoor bazaar, I assumed my exploration was at an end and almost called it quits when I spotted an official looking sign hanging outside a large two-story building that read “Jagalchi Fish Market.” Inside were impressive stalls, much cleaner and larger than their outdoor counterparts, showcasing a wide selection of live seafood. After working through some language barriers, I learned from a vendor that any live seafood I picked out and paid for downstairs would be cleaned and prepared as I waited and then brought with me upstairs to be cooked and eaten.