Living in Wonju South Korea, These Many Long Years

Living in Wonju South Korea, These Many Long Years: Version 2.0!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


All neophytes in Korea need to learn the art of haggling.

Now some may turn their nose up and poo poo such activity, thinking it beneath them.

If that's the case, I have a bridge in Arizona I'd like to sell you.

Haggling does depend on the type of store you are shopping in.

For example, the cashier at Emart will laugh you out of the store.

That didn't stop the halmoni I saw this afternoon on my way home from work.  She told the cashier at the hanaro mart in a small village I stopped at that she was only going to pay a manner, despite how the price of her goods was a manner and 8 beggers.  She almost made it out the door before they tackled her.

If you'd like to avoid a similar fate, I would recommend following this very simple guide for haggling:

1- Forget chain stores.  The beauty of a chain store is how impersonal it is.  The owner is currently in Patay golfing, and his / her peons have little to no leeway to give you a discount.

2- Forget the halmonis on the street selling vegetables.  Usually their stuff is so cheap anyway, are you really that poor that you need to take an extra chonner from a woman who obviously hasn't bought new clothes since 1975?

3- Go to market spots like Yongsan or your local downtown markets.  Always haggle at places like these.  They expect you to haggle, and have raised prices accordingly.  If you don't haggle, they will think you are an idiot.

4- Start off by saying how expensive it is.  Wander around to the other stalls and check out competing prices.  Use the word discount frequently, especially if you see a lower price elsewhere.  DO NOT BUY THE FIRST LOWER PRICE ITEM.

5- Take your time.  If you have just got to have something right now, go to a chain store and pay the full price.  Haggling requires patience and fortitude.  I spent nearly 3 hours haggling with salesmen over my TV.  In the end, I saved 25 manners on the tickets price.  Even had it delivered for free!  That pays more than teaching English at a haggie!

6- Show your credit card.  Put it back in your wallet.  Show your credit card again.  The sales staff would much rather you pay cash, since then they don't have to pay the merchant fee on the card and its easier to shuffle the money around.  DO NOT SHOW CASH RIGHT AWAY, and only mention you would be willing to pay cash if the price were lower.

7- Say you're hungry.

8- Act agitated, like you're in the midst of a huge dilemma.

9- Repeat that you are hungry.  This implies that the sales staff is asking such a ridiculous price that you won't be able to eat afterwards.

10- Mention how your wife / husband would kill you if you bought it.  Many sales staff would feel great consolation at knowing that even though they let the item go much cheaper than they wanted, at least you'll be sharing in the misery when you get it home.

There are other little tricks you can use, but be wary of using them if you haven't had much experience at the game.  Most sales staff have seen it all, and would rather not make a sale then deal with your fumbling.   This gives them license to be rude, and that will put you on tilt.  That's when you end up paying too much.


jakeinkorea said...

halmonis are the most hardcore hagglers. Often times the won't even use words, they'll just throw down whatever they're willing to pay and make a run for it. Merchants sometimes put up with it because they are too embarrassed to chase the old birds down!

F5Waeg said...

They don't haggle. They just pay what they think is fair. Which is usually less than what some yangachi wants. Which is why I usually just give more than 2 chonners for 3 heads of broccoli and run away.

A fool and his money. . .

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