Traditional Market Ingredients Vocabulary

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Looking for all the hard-to-find ingredients vocabulary you need to understand traditional markets in South Korea? Look no further, we have PDF lists you can print for shopping and studying! Also, we have a variety of traditional market ingredients vocabulary lists to help you shop like an expert.

About Traditional Markets

Korean traditional markets exist as vibrant hubs of cultural, culinary, and commercial activity that offer a unique window into the country’s rich heritage. Unlike the sterile aisles of modern supermarkets, these bustling labyrinths are alive with the chatter of vendors hawking fresh produce, seafood, and an array of locally-made goods. The sights, sounds, and smells create a sensory tapestry: from mountains of chili peppers and garlic destined for kimchi, to sizzling street food stalls serving delicacies like tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes) and odeng (fish cake skewers). These markets are more than just places to buy groceries; they are community gathering spots, a testament to Korea’s deep-rooted traditions, and a bridge between the country’s past and its rapidly modernizing present.

Traditional Markets and International Residents

At South of Seoul, we want to support international residents in learning how to use traditional markets in their daily lives. Traditional markets offer affordable prices, unique ingredients, delicious homemade food goods, and a connection with the community. However, such traditional markets can feel overwhelming at first, and new arrivals need support.

Linguistic Challenges in Traditional Markets in Korea

In traditional markets in Korea, one of the primary challenges faced by non-native shoppers and even some younger Koreans is navigating the myriad of ingredient names. Such names often differ significantly from their English or modern supermarket counterparts. These markets often use old, regional, or colloquial terms for produce, seafood, and other goods, making it difficult for those unfamiliar with such terminology to identify or differentiate items accurately.

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Moreover, the absence of standardized packaging or labeling, as is typical in larger grocery stores, means shoppers must rely on verbal communication with vendors, which can be daunting if one’s proficiency in the Korean language is limited. The rich tapestry of regional dialects and nuances can further complicate the shopping experience, making it a complex task for those unaccustomed to the local linguistic landscape.

traditional market

Additionally, most Korean dictionaries and vocabulary lists do not extensively cover ingredients unique to Korea. This means that international residents can’t even find resources to help them overcome the complicated landscape of Korean linguistic terms used in traditional markets. Therefore, South of Seoul volunteers work with the Songtan Traditional Market in Pyeongtaek to compile lengthy vocabulary lists to help international residents overcome such hurdles.

English to Korean v. Korean to English Lists

Studying language and using language in real life often requires two different viewpoints. When studying in a classroom or trying to compose our thoughts, it’s often helpful to have vocabulary organized via English. However, if we are at the market we are often looking up words on signs and it’s more helpful to have vocab organized by the Korean spelling. Therefore, we provide two lists for each category of vocabulary: English to Korean and Korean to English.

Uses for Traditional Market Ingredients Vocabulary Lists

The following vocabulary lists are perfect for activities such as:

  • Creating shopping lists
  • Studying at language exchanges
  • Creating new blog content
  • Translating recipes

Print and Use Traditional Market Ingredients Vocabulary Lists As Needed

Everyone can download these traditional market ingredients vocabulary lists and use them. We want this information to be freely used by whoever finds it. We have included the information as PDFs to make it easier to share, print, and compile into new lists as needed.


Every language list exists as a work in progress. We will be updating lists as we compile more information. It will be impossible to document every local term for Korean ingredients but we do our best. If you have vocabulary words you would like us to add to our lists, please let us know.

Meat Vocabulary

The following downloadable PDF of meat cut vocabulary focuses on beef, pork, lamb, and fowl vocabulary.

Beans, Grain, and Rice Vocabulary

The following downloadable pdf of beans, grain, and rice vocabulary. We realize that there are many more traditional grains that we have not included and we will add them to the list over time.

Vegetable Vocabulary

This vegetable vocabulary list also includes fruits used as vegetables.

Additional Information for Traditional Markets

If you find these ingredients lists helpful and you love traditional markets, you may also want to read the following articles: