Forget Bitcoin and Kakaopay. It’s time to spend money, the old school way.

Introducing Tongin Market, a market in Seoul where you can buy food using ancient coins.

Main walkway of Tongin Market
This market looks like any other Korean market but there is a “cafe” here with a very interesting concept

Once you are in this market, you want to look for this “도시락 cafe” (doshirak cafe i.e. lunchbox cafe). It is easy to spot; just walk the main passageway and you should come across the entrance somewhere in the middle of the market.

Entrance to Doshirak Cafe in Tongin Market
The entrance to the cafe located at Level 2. Walk in and take the stairs up. (Photo by 취미로 요리하는 여자 under CC BY)

Upstairs, you can approach the staff there and exchange 5,000 KRW for a bundle of 10 coins and you will also receive an empty plastic lunchbox in which you can hold your food. HOT TIP: For two persons, they recommended to exchange 15,000 KRW worth of coins.

Ancient coins to be used in Tongin Market
These are what you will get from the cafe (Photo by 루키의 이색여행일지 under CC BY)

Now, it’s time to buy some food using those ancient coins! Walk around the market and look for stuff you want to put in your lunchbox. Look out for shops with the 도시락 cafe sign; these are the shops where you can spend your ancient coins at.

A shop with a Doshirak Cafe sign in Tongin Market
Look out for participating shops with the pink (or blue) sign at the top left! (Photo by EATS 영블로그 under CC BY-ND)
Large variety of food sold at Tongin Market
You will be spoiled for choice by the variety of food there!
A famous Oil Teokbokki shop run by a old lady in Tongin Market
Try the Oil Teokbokki (기름 떡볶이)! Tongin Market is famous for this dish.

HOT TIP: You definitely have to try Oil Teokbokki when at Tongin Market. One variation is cooked with soy sauce and oil while another is cooked with chilli flakes and oil. I prefered the one with chili flakes.

Another participating shop of the Doshirak Cafe in Tongin Market
Some shops display the price of their dish in 냥, which basically is the number of coins (Photo by 또우또우의 아이디어 공작소❤ under CC BY-ND)

Once you have filled your lunchbox, you can head back to Level 2 of the cafe (the place where you exchanged for you coins) and dine there. There are chairs, tables and water for you to dine in comfort.

2 plates of food bought from different shops in Tongin Market
This is what we got for 15,000 KRW (for 2 pax)

So what do you think of this concept of using ancient coins to buy food?

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