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Namdaemun Market was, at least in April 2014, not the loud, crowded market as described in many guidebooks. The advice to go during the daytime to beat the weekend and late night crowds can be ignored. After 10pm, the place was pretty much dead with 80% of the shops closed. Sure, if you want to have a bite at one of the (tented) restaurants, no problem. For a shopping experience, you'd have to try during the day. Maybe things get more interesting in the summer...
I spent an enjoyable afternoon walking around this market, which was close by my hotel. I arrived into Korea from Taiwan, and was surprised by the sharp drop in temperature. I managed to find a coat at a reasonable price, and was impressed by the snappy and cheerful service, even though the young woman serving me spoke no English. The street stalls were interesting, and exotic food (to me, at least) stalls mixed with a variety of different places selling their wares. One tiny enclosure caught my attention, housing a man talking to two women. I don't know what was on offer, but I was impressed by the drive and entrepreneurialism of the man setting up his business with such little resource. The tiniest business I have ever seen! I enjoyed my walk, but have been in more interesting and lively street markets in Taiwan and China.
Namdaemun market is labyrinth of shops interconnected by little lanes and roads (generally closed to traffic) with the roads and lanes hosting various stalls.
You will be jostling for space with locals looking for a bargain, tourists and shop/stall keepers creating a lively environment.
Sample the local foods at very reasonable prices and check out what's on sale - knock off clothes and bags, utensils etc.
Most things on sale aren't labelled. If you're not happy with the price quoted, you can ask for a discount or just move on.
This market is less than 10 minutes walk from Myeongdong. By comparison, things for sale in Namdaemun are not as "up market" as Myeongdong.
Went there twice and did not manage to find the things I wanted to buy as the shop owners were busy packing to close shop even at 4pm ish. The booths on the main roads were selling around the same things and I notice women's wear tend to be for the 40-50s+
Good deals and rip-offs alike are abound. It is organized into sections for shoes, adults, children, toys, etc. Some of the merchandise is low quality so be careful. It is interesting to just walk and do people watching.