Inside a Korean Supermarket – Shopping at E-MART 이마트

by Audrey on September 30, 2012

Today you are in for a treat because we are taking you shopping! And not just anywhere, we are going to 이마트! Or E-MART for those of you who are still working on your hangul reading skills. E-MART is the equivalent of your North American WALMART, and it has just about everything you could need; although this being Korea, it carries a few strange items. Let us show you around!


Plenty of things make us chuckle every time we set foot in E-MART, but here are just some of the highlights:

Locked Cheese

Locked Up Cheese

Cheese, especially the imported variety, is kept in a plastic case that can only be unlocked by the cashier. What I find funny about this is that it isn’t even a fancy Brie or Roquefort, this is just your average sliced processed cheese! Apparently it’s such a valuable culinary commodity that people are tempted to steal it. Only in Korea…

Pet Snails

Pet Snails

Kittens, hamsters, goldfish. Those days are long gone! These days you can buy your kid a pet snail, because who doesn’t want to have a slimy creature they can caress…wait, can you even pet a snail? Okay, maybe you can just feed it some lettuce and have that be the extent of the relationship.

Mountaineering Equipment

Mountain Equipment

Hiking in Korea is no joke. No matter how small the mountain may be, one has to dress as though embarking on the great ascent towards Everest Base Camp. This means special pants, jackets, hats, gloves, backpacks, face masks (clean air can be a frightening thing) and hiking sticks.

Rice Cookers

Rice Cookers in Korea

Rice. It’s everywhere. Whether you’re eating a rice based meal like dolsot bibimbap (돌솥 비빔밥) or a kimchi jjigae (김치찌개) that comes with a side of rice, you can’t avoid this grain. I fought it for months, but I’ve now embraced it as the Asian culinary delight that it is. It only makes sense that they would have an entire aisle devoted to rice cookers.

What strange things have you encountered in foreign markets?

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

nomadic translator October 23, 2012 at 9:47 pm

the locked cheese one is just HILARIOUS. Like you, I wonder, is processed cheese that much of a hot commodity over there?! Too funny.

– Maria Alexandra

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