Shopping at Big-Box Retailers In Korea

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Sometimes it’s nice to get all your shopping done in one place. Here is what you need to know about the big-box retailers in South Korea including locations near Pyeongtaek, South Korea.

What is a Big-Box Retailer?

First of all, let’s talk about what a ‘big-box retailer is’:

A big-box retailer is a retail store that occupies an enormous amount of physical space and offers a variety of products to its customers. These stores achieve economies of scale by focusing on large sales volumes. Because volume is high, the profit margin for each product can be lowered, which results in very competitively priced goods. The term “big-box” is derived from the store’s physical appearance.

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Although you might not be able to find everything you are used to from your home country, South Korea’s big stores provide almost everything you need to survive and thrive. It will take you some time to adjust to where your favorite things are stored in these massive stores, but once you get things figured out life will get much easier.

Culture Tips of Visiting Big-box Stores in Korea for the First Time

Not everyone needs this extra support in managing large complicated spaces in a new culture, but many of us do. If you struggle with feeling overwhelmed while settling into life in South Korea, the following information may help you get out and explore new big-box retailers:

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  • You may feel VERY overwhelmed on your first visit to a big-box store in South Korea as you learn to navigate systems created by a culture different than your own. That’s ok. Feeling overwhelmed feeling is a normal part of culture shock. The overwhelmed feeling will slowly fade as your knowledge of your surrounds increases.
  • Allow plenty of time to figure things out. It may take A LOT more time to do your shopping because things are in new places and written in Korean. If it usually takes 30 minutes back home to do your shopping, give yourself 1-1.5 hours on your first trip to a new big-box store. You can use Papago or Google Translate to help read the packaging and ask for assistance from staff.
  • Consider giving yourself and others around you extra grace. During this uncomfortable time, try to focus on the factthat feeling uncomfortable, angry, or overwhelmed does not equal yourself or others as bad. Hold grace for yourself and the new culture. Feel those feelings. Reflect on what causes those feels without judgment.
  • Take a rest. Nearly every big-box store has a place to take a rest and grab a coffee and a stack. Don’t hesitate to take advantage of this. Don’t force yourself to push through. You are allowed to step away and take a moment. Self-care is life when dealing with culture shock.
  • Manage your expectation before you go. This is a new country, a new store, and a new life. Needs you expect to have met by the box-store might not be bet. Expectations about what will be available will likely not be met. Expectations about how things will be organized may not be met. If you manage your expectations and leave yourself open to new experiences, things may go much more smoothly on your first visit.
  • It gets easier each time you go. Resiliance is everything. If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. Each time you visit the store it will become easier to navigate and eventually you will feel like a big-box store superhero. You can do this even if it’s incredibly uncomfortable one the first visit.

What Big-box Retailers are in Korea?

Korea has six primary big-box stores retails. These offer a westernized “mega” buying experience where you can find groceries, housing items, clothing, camping, electronics, and more. There are big-box retailers that follow the Costco trend and other big-box retail that follow the Target trend.

Costco Style Big-Box Retailers in Korea

Costco

Membership required. Memberships from Costcos in other countries are accepted at Costco in Korea. As always, cash is king at Costco.

Basically exactly like Costco from home, but with a selection of items that leans in a more Korean direction. That means more rice and ramen options. This is where many international residents go for cheese, wine, meat, and comfort foods. If you can get to Costco, it will cut your grocery bill dramatically.

E-mart Traders

No membership is required, open to the general public. Similar to Costco, but you don’t always have to buy massive amounts of something. E-mart traders also has an excellent assortment of cheese, sausages, and veggies at affordable prices. Selection is limited, but prices are great.

MegaMart

No membership is required, open to the general public. Similar to Costco and E-mart traders with slightly more commitment to the local market.

Target Style Retailers Big-Box Retailers in Korea

E-Mart

Not a budget option but they have a lot of things folks need. If you are from the United States you might find it similar to Target, Wal-mart, or Fred Meyer. You can learn more by visiting the Emart website. E-mart also owns and operates a second brand called, funny enough, No Brand. These are small stores not impacted by the bib-box store closing days.

Homeplus  

Basically the same things as E-mart, but with a slightly different selection and lower prices on many things such as clothing. A great place to pick up cheap, generic clothing.

Lotte Mart

Lotte Mart is the premium version of Homeplus and E-mart, now super expensive but with fewer overall deals.

Special Monthly Closing Days for Big-Box Retailers

Over a decade ago, South Korea mandated that big-box retailers close twice a month in order to help push money back into the community and support smaller businesses. Usually, such retailers will close on the 2nd and 4th Sunday of each month, however, there is no mandated government rule stating which days the stores must close.

Since there is no rule mandating the closed days, each region is free to set their own closed days and some might close on Wednesday instead of Sunday, or they may close on the 1st and 3rd Sundays. You will need to check store websites in order to confirm the closed days in your area. You can also contact 1330 for help in this matter.

If you live near Camp Humphreys or Osan Air Force base in Pyeongtaek, you will want to know that, in Pyeongtaek and Cheonan, their closed days are the 2nd and 4th Sunday of each month.

Exceptions to the Rule

Big-box retail shops attached to malls may not have to close when the mall is open year-round. For example, in Anseong, the E-Mart Traders does not close every 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month.

Reasons to Shop at Big-box Stores

A Familiar Shopping Experience

If you are stressed out by all the new choices and experiences, shopping at one of these box stores may feel comforting. Things will still be different but many things will also be the same. It can feel comforting to shop in a space that feels closer to your home culture as you adapt to Korean life.

Variety of International Food Items

You will find the widest selection of cheese and other western food items at these larger stores. Having familiar food items at home can help you manage culture shock.

Everything in One Place

You can get a lot taken care of without needing to navigate to many different parts of town. Many big-box stores even offer dry cleaning, key making, passport photos, pharmacies, pet stores, and more. You can run all your errands in one spot.

Western Holiday Shopping

The big box stores (like malls) will usually offer solid holiday shopping for westernized holiday decore for Halloween and Christmas. You will be able to find things like Christmas trees, Halloween candy, pumpkin pie, turkeys, etc.

Big-Box Retailers in Pyeongtaek

E-Mart Pyeongtaek Jije

E-Mart Pyeongtaek Jije5

031-371-1234

Copy and paste phone numbers into Naver Maps to get directions

Nice emart near the express train. Closed the 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month.

Hangul Address

경기도 평택시 영신로 29

(Listing information provided by the South of Seoul app)

Home Plus Songtan Branch

Home Plus Songtan Branch2.5

031-8053-8000

Copy and paste phone numbers into Naver Maps to get directions

Department store comparable to Lotte Mart and Emart.

Hangul Address

경기도 평택시 경기대로 1103

(Listing information provided by the South of Seoul app)

Home Plus Anjung Branch

Home Plus Anjung Branch5

031-8046-8200

Copy and paste phone numbers into Naver Maps to get directions

Newest and nicest box store in Pyeongtaek.

Hangul Address

경기 평택시 안중읍 서동대로 1489

(Listing information provided by the South of Seoul app)

Lotte Mart Pyeongtaek Branch

Lotte Mart Pyeongtaek Branch0

031-8053-2500

Copy and paste phone numbers into Naver Maps to get directions

Great box store with many additional services. Easy to visit with a car and near the 20 Bus line. Great restaurants in the area. See the SOS calendar for regularly scheduled closing days.

Hangul Address

경기 평택시 평택5로 30

(Listing information provided by the South of Seoul app)

Big-box Stores Near Pyeongtaek

Costco Cheonan

Costco Cheonan0

1899-9900

Copy and paste phone numbers into Naver Maps to get directions

US big-box retailer that works just like home. Excellent place to buy meat, cheese, sausages, wine. Closed: 2nd and 4th Sunday of each month.

Hangul Address

충남 천안시 서북구 3공단6로 77

(Listing information provided by the South of Seoul app)

Costco Yongin

Costco Yongin0

1899-9900

Copy and paste phone numbers into Naver Maps to get directions

This Costco is very near Yongin Ikea.

Hangul Address

경기 용인시 기흥구 탑실로 38

(Listing information provided by the South of Seoul app)

E Mart Traders Anseong

E Mart Traders Anseong5

031-363-1234

Copy and paste phone numbers into Naver Maps to get directions

Basically like Costco on steroids and no membership required.

Hangul Address

경기도 안산시 단원구 중앙대로 397

(Listing information provided by the South of Seoul app)

Emart Traders - Asan/Cheonan

Emart Traders - Asan/Cheonan0

041-423-0123

Copy and paste phone numbers into Naver Maps to get directions

This big box store, distinct from regular Emarts, is like Costco - but doesn't require a membership. You can buy lots of wonderful things in bulk at discounted prices. We highly recommend this for families. Swipe Left in the header to watch a video tour. You can easily pull up the pin in Waze by searching "emart traders" and selecting the Cheonan / Asan option.

Hangul Address

충청남도 아산시 배방읍 고속철대로 133

(Listing information provided by the South of Seoul app)

Megamart - Cheonan

Megamart - Cheonan0

041-589-6000

Copy and paste phone numbers into Naver Maps to get directions

Similar to Costco but without a need for membership, Megamart is another great place to buy in bulk.

Hangul Address

충청남도 천안시 서북구 천안대로 1348

(Listing information provided by the South of Seoul app)

Emart - Osan Branch

Emart - Osan Branch5

031-369-7123

Copy and paste phone numbers into Naver Maps to get directions

Osans Emart, located about 10 minutes walking distance from Osan Station.

Hangul Address

경기 오산시 경기대로 181

(Listing information provided by the South of Seoul app)

Lotte Mart Osan City

Lotte Mart Osan City0

031-371-2500

Copy and paste phone numbers into Naver Maps to get directions

Hangul Address

경기 오산시 경기대로 271

(Listing information provided by the South of Seoul app)

3 thoughts on “Shopping at Big-Box Retailers In Korea”

    • You are correct, not everyone has a car. That’s why we first created this guide for home delivery. We can add a link in this blog to the delivery blog to help folks connect the information.

      We also have a blog for neighborhood marts in different areas of Pyeongtaek so that it’s easier to find groceries close to home. Many of these local marts can have your groceries delivered to your home after you shop.

      We also have a smart phone app where everyone can add their favorite groceries and support expat information in your neighborhoods.

      Many of us don’t have cars either and we walk home with our groceries, take a taxi, or a bus. When we go to a big box store, we go to the a Costco with easy access to the train and use a hand car and taxi combo. Hope that helps.

      https://blog.southofseoul.net/index.php/2020/04/06/expat-guide-to-grocery-delivery-in-korea/

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