Korea, a vibrant and culturally rich country, is not only known for its K-pop music, K-dramas, and stunning landscapes but also for its diverse and extraordinary culinary scene. From fiery and flavorful dishes to unique and exotic ingredients, Korean cuisine has captured the hearts and palates of food enthusiasts worldwide.
If you’re planning a trip to Korea or simply want to explore Korean flavors in your own kitchen, you’ll need to know where to find the finest ingredients. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the world of Korean supermarkets and grocery stores, showcasing the best places to shop for authentic Korean products that will take your culinary adventures to new heights.
This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. Support my blog here
TRAVEL PLANNING RESOURCES
Discovering the Best Korean Supermarkets and Grocery Stores in Korea
Korean supermarkets are an important asset to Korean culture from their wide selection of fresh produce to their needs to cater to both local and Western food as well.
However, the Korean market is largely dominated by major Korean supermarket chains such as E-mart, Lotte Mart, and Homeplus, which offer an extensive range of products including fruits, vegetables, meats, as well as household items, electronics, and clothing. These supermarkets have established themselves as reliable destinations for a comprehensive shopping experience. Think the Walmart or Targets of Korea.
Smaller neighborhood markets like traditional outdoor markets and convenience stores such as CU and GS25 are also highly popular among shoppers. These smaller stores provide quick and convenient shopping experiences, often operating 24 hours a day. It’s a great place to not only shop for groceries but a great spot to grab a quick snack, lunch, or just everyday necessities.
Lately, many Koreans do their grocery shopping online. Many of the stores above like E-Mart, Lotte Mart, and Homeplus offer online ordering and next-day or sometimes same-day delivery and you also have online resources like Coupang, GMarket, and more. So let’s continue on the list of supermarkets in Korea.
1. Homeplus (홈플러스)
Homeplus, owned by Tesco, is a popular Asian supermarket chain that provides a comprehensive range of products, from fresh produce to electronics. While Homeplus caters to general household needs, its grocery sections are well-stocked with Korean food products and different brands, making this one of the best Korean supermarkets that provide a great option for both locals and foreigners.
One standout feature of Homeplus is its online shopping platform, which offers home delivery services. This convenience allows customers to browse and purchase items from the comfort of their own homes, making Homeplus an excellent choice for those with busy schedules or limited mobility. This is honestly one of my favorite grocery stores in Korea because they have a lot of what I need all in one place. They have a fairly good selection of groceries for Westerners including cheese, desserts, and so much more.
2. Lotte Mart (롯데마트)
Lotte Mart is one of the best supermarkets that offers a vast selection of groceries, fresh fruits, household items, and more. With locations throughout Korea, Lotte Mart is easily accessible for both locals and tourists. Their stores are usually spacious and well-organized, ensuring a pleasant shopping experience. Lotte Mart carries a wide range of Korean products, including fresh produce, meats, seafood, snacks, condiments, and traditional Korean ingredients.
Additionally, they often have dedicated sections for imported goods, making it a convenient option for those seeking international products. Lotte Mart’s commitment to quality, affordability, and variety has earned them a spot as one of the top choices for grocery shopping in Korea and maybe the biggest supermarket in Seoul.
3. E-Mart (이마트)
E-Mart, operated by Shinsegae Group, is another prominent supermarket chain in Korea and the oldest supermarket chain. Offering a similar range of products as Lotte Mart, E-Mart caters to customers seeking both Korean and international ingredients. They are known for their competitive prices and frequent promotions, making it a great option for budget-conscious shoppers. E-Mart also features a selection of organic and health-conscious products, ensuring that everyone’s dietary needs are met. With a vast network of locations, E-Mart is a convenient and reliable choice for those looking to stock up on Korean groceries.
4. NoBrand (노브랜드)
NoBrand, a popular grocery store in Korea, has gained recognition for its unique concept and approach to shopping. As the name suggests, NoBrand focuses on offering quality products without the burden of brand names. The store aims to provide customers with affordable options while maintaining high standards of quality. NoBrand offers a diverse range of items, including groceries, household essentials, and even lifestyle products, all under one roof. With its minimalist and modern aesthetic, NoBrand creates a comfortable and pleasant shopping environment. Whether you’re looking for everyday necessities or exploring new products, NoBrand offers a refreshing and budget-friendly shopping experience for those seeking quality without the need for brand labels.
5. Costco (코스트코)
Costco, the global warehouse club chain, has also made its mark in Korea, offering a unique shopping experience for its members. Known for its bulk purchases and competitive prices, Costco has gained a loyal following among locals and expats alike.
Costco’s stores in Korea are spacious and well-organized, offering a wide range of products that cater to various needs. From groceries, including fresh produce, meats, and pantry staples, to household items, electronics, and even furniture, Costco has it all. The store is especially popular for its extensive selection of imported goods, providing customers with access to a wide array of international products.
One of the key attractions of shopping at Costco is the value it offers. By purchasing in bulk, customers can enjoy significant savings compared to traditional retail stores. This makes it an appealing option for families, businesses, and individuals looking to stock up on essentials or enjoy cost-effective shopping.
6. Local Marts
Local marts, also known as “mom-and-pop” stores or neighborhood convenience stores, are an integral part of the Korean grocery shopping experience. These small, local marts are independently-owned stores are scattered throughout residential areas, offering convenience and accessibility to local residents.
Local marts play a significant role in providing daily necessities and convenience items to the community. From basic groceries, snacks, and beverages to household essentials, personal care products, and even simple meals, these stores cater to the immediate needs of customers within walking distance. They can be a large supermarket but not a chain and typically bigger than convenience stores and they offer produce, groceries, etc, but unable to compete with the large supermarkets like Homeplus, Lotte Mart, and EMart.
7. H Mart (Korean Supermarket in the US)
H Mart is a highly popular Korean supermarket chain that originated in the United States and has since expanded to various locations across the country. It is known for specializing in Korean and Asian groceries, offering a wide range of products that cater to the diverse culinary needs of its customers. H Mart stocks a variety of fresh produce, seafood, meats, pantry staples, snacks, and specialty ingredients that are commonly used in Korean and Asian cooking.
The store’s emphasis on quality and authenticity has made it a go-to destination for both Korean and non-Korean customers seeking to explore and enjoy the flavors of Korean cuisine. H Mart also features a selection of ready-to-eat meals, baked goods, and a vibrant food court where visitors can experience a wide array of Korean and Asian cuisine. With its extensive range of products and commitment to providing an authentic shopping experience, H Mart has gained a loyal following and has become a beloved destination for Korean groceries in the United States.
Convenience Stores in Korea
Convenience stores in Korea, such as CU, GS25, and 7-Eleven, are ubiquitous and an integral part of daily Korean life. These compact stores are scattered throughout neighborhoods, providing convenience and essential items to customers around the clock. Convenience stores in Korea go beyond just offering snacks and beverages; they offer a wide array of products ranging from groceries, ready-to-eat meals, personal care items, household goods, and even services like bill payment and ATM services.
Their extended operating hours, often 24/7, make them a go-to destination for late-night or emergency needs and a great place to grab the best Korean snacks. The convenience store culture in Korea is also known for its emphasis on efficiency, cleanliness, and quick service, ensuring a seamless and hassle-free shopping experience. Whether it’s grabbing a quick snack, topping up on groceries, or fulfilling daily needs, convenience stores in Korea have become an essential part of people’s routines.
DISCOVER SEOUL’S VIBRANT NIGHT FOOD SCENE | Embark on an unforgettable Seoul Night Food Tour and experience the city’s culinary delights after the sun sets. As the bustling streets come alive with food vendors and vibrant nightlife, you’ll have the opportunity to immerse yourself in Seoul’s rich gastronomic culture. Get details here.
GS25 is a popular convenience store chain in Korea known for its wide selection of products, including snacks, beverages, instant meals, the best Korean ramyeon, toiletries, and basic groceries. With its bright and modern stores, GS25 offers a convenient shopping experience and often operates 24/7, catering to the needs of customers at any time of the day. Out of all of the convenience stores, it’s probably one of the most popular ones Although CU is quite up there with them.
CU, another prominent convenience store brand in Korea, is recognized for its extensive network of stores throughout the country. CU provides a diverse range of products, including ready-to-eat meals, snacks, drinks, household items, and personal care products. The stores are known for their cleanliness and convenience, making them a go-to destination for quick shopping and essential supplies.
7-Eleven is a well-established international convenience store chain with a strong presence in Korea. Offering a variety of products, including snacks, beverages, frozen foods, and basic groceries, 7-Eleven stores are known for their convenience and accessibility. They often provide additional services such as ATMs, bill payment, and online ordering, further enhancing the convenience store experience.
Ministop is a less-known and not as popular convenience store chain in Korea. They offer a lot of the same things that GS25, CU, and 7-Eleven offer. Just like the other typical convenience store items, Ministop offers a wide range of freshly prepared meals, snacks, and desserts
12. Emart 24
Emart 24, operated by the popular Emart supermarket chain, offers a diverse selection of products in a convenient format. These stores are often located near residential areas and operate 24/7, providing customers with round-the-clock access to groceries, snacks, beverages, toiletries, and other convenience items. Emart 24 combines the convenience of a traditional convenience store with the reliability and quality associated with the Emart brand.
Online Grocery Stores in Korea
Coupang is one of the leading online stores in Korea, offering a wide range of products including groceries. With its user-friendly website and mobile app, Coupang provides a convenient online shopping experience and offers fast delivery services to customers across the country. This is an online grocery store, pretty much like the Amazon of South Korea, they have anything and everything that you could possibly find.
iHerb is a popular online retailer specializing in health and wellness products. While it is not exclusively a grocery store, iHerb offers a diverse selection of groceries, including organic and natural food items, snacks, supplements, and personal care products. It is known for its extensive range of seasonings and international brands that can be difficult to get within Korea.
GMarket is one of the largest online marketplaces in Korea in competition with Coupang, offering a wide range of products from various sellers. It features a dedicated grocery section where customers can find fresh produce, pantry staples, snacks, and other food items. GMarket provides a convenient platform for customers to compare prices and shop from multiple vendors in one place.
Traditional Markets in Korea (시장)
Traditional local markets, known as “si-jang” in Korean, hold a significant place in the cultural and economic fabric of Korea. These markets are bustling hubs of commerce, where vendors and shoppers come together to exchange goods, engage in lively conversations, and preserve the traditions of Korean life while having more authentic Korean shopping experiences. Traditional markets are quite similar to what many Westerners would consider to be Farmer’s Markets in Korea where you can get many things locally at a discounted price.
They offer a wide range of products, including fresh produce, meats, seafood, spices, traditional crafts, and clothing. Many of these markets you can get a lot at a reasonable price, are budget-friendly, traditional with lots of side dishes, and have amazing Korean street food options like spicy rice cakes, fried chicken, and more. They offer a lot of great deals and discounts.
They offer a glimpse into the daily lives of the local community and foster a sense of belonging and community spirit. Traditional markets in Korea are not merely places to buy and sell; they are vibrant centers of social interaction, culinary exploration, and cultural exchange. They are spaces where the old and the new converge, and where the essence of Korean identity is cherished and celebrated. Here are some of the best and most well-known traditional markets in Korea.
- Namdaemun Market, Seoul – One of the oldest and largest traditional markets in Seoul, Namdaemun Market offers a diverse range of products, from clothing and accessories to food and souvenirs.
- Noryangjin Market, Seoul – Known as the largest seafood market in Seoul, Noryangjin Market offers an impressive selection of fresh seafood, where visitors can buy and enjoy delicious seafood dishes on-site.
- Gwangjang Market, Seoul – Gwangjang Market is a bustling traditional market famous for its vibrant food alley, where visitors can indulge in mouthwatering Korean street food and explore a variety of clothing and fabric stalls.
- Tongin Market, Seoul – Tongin Market is known for its unique “Dosirak Café” concept, where visitors can purchase traditional coins and exchange them for various dishes from different food stalls, creating their own customized lunchboxes.
- Gukje Market, Busan – Gukje Market, located in Busan, is a historic market that offers a wide range of goods, from clothing and accessories to electronics and household items, attracting both locals and tourists.
- Jagalchi Market – It’s a vibrant and bustling fish market, offering an extensive array of fresh seafood, and fresh fish, and providing visitors with an immersive experience of the local culinary scene.
- Jeju Dongmun Traditional Market – Jeju Dongmun Traditional Market is a vibrant market on Jeju Island, offering an array of local products, fresh seafood, fruits, and traditional Jeju specialties.
- Suwon Paldalmun Market – Suwon Paldalmun Market is a traditional market in Suwon, known for its bustling atmosphere and a wide variety of street food, fresh produce, and traditional crafts.
EXPLORE THE VIBRANT GWANGJANG MARKET WITH A LOCAL GUIDE | Delve into the bustling energy and culinary wonders of Gwangjang Market in Seoul. With a history dating back over a century, this iconic market is a hub of activity and a true food lover’s paradise. Full details here.
Supermarkets in Korea Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best Korean supermarket?
To be honest, it depends on you. I highly recommend Homeplus, it’s got everything you’ll ever need. However, if Homeplus isn’t near you Lotte Mart and EMart are big chains that are a good choices they are all in tough competition with each other. I prefer Homeplus because it was what was closest to me and offered ingredients I was unable to get at the other stores. The preference is ultimately yours. Others will say they prefer EMart or Lotte Mart.
What is one of the most popular grocery stores in Korea?
One of the most popular grocery stores in Korea is E-Mart. E-Mart is a well-established supermarket chain that offers a wide range of products, including fresh produce, groceries, household items, electronics, clothing, and more. It became so popular that they created their own convenience stores called EMart 24.
How can I say “Where can I find a grocery store” in Korean language?
슈퍼마켓이 어디에요? (syupomakesi odieyo).
Thoughts on Korean Supermarkets
In conclusion, Korean grocery stores are an integral part of the country’s culinary landscape. When it comes to choosing which of the many Korean supermarkets to go to, it’s truly up to you. I suggest you go to any of the Korean supermarkets closest to where you are just out of convenience so that you can easily carry and bring home food without wasting time or money.
Liked this post on Korean Supermarkets and grocery stores in in Korea? Pin it!