Despite being a lover of seafood, going to the fish market was actually my least favorite Korean experience thus far. The fish market was a huge building of open stalls with live seafood. I did see some of the biggest sea creatures of my life – octopus, prawns, flounder, red snappers, salmon, crabs, lobsters, and more shellfish. The ground was soaked in water, but the air didn’t smell as fishy as I thought it would. If you kept walking, vendors didn’t try to sell you things. But if you stopped for even a second to take pictures or look, they attacked you. We walked through the market then found a spot in the back to come up with a game plan. We stopped at one stall and negotiated for 2 large crab, 6 prawns and 2 small octopi for $80. Once you buy one thing, the vendor throws more at you and “cuts you a deal” to get you to buy more and more. We finally walked away to find a red snapper which we negotiated down to $36 from $45. I watched them place the snapper in a net on the floor and take a mini scythe (ax the grim reaper uses) to swiftly decapitate the fish. After the whole experience, I won’t eat seafood for a solid few days.
Another person swoops in after you’ve purchased your seafood and takes your bags from the vendor and leads you away. This is a restaurant worker who is forcing you to eat at their restaurant. Whatever, we followed her. But the racist and crappy service we received after ruined the entire night. After we were seated, no one attended to our table for five minutes despite to bell rings for service. Then a boy comes over and grumpily lays down the table mats – which everyone else got before they even sat down. We tell another woman how we want our seafood prepared and she goes off. Over ten minutes go by and we get no silverware, drinks, or sides and we ring the bell some more. No service. Finally after fifteen minutes, our live octopi comes out with sides. Still no silverware or water for another ten minutes so we just eat with our hands. They didn’t even have to cook the octopi so why did it take so long?? One girl asks for water in Korean and the waitress literally laughs at us and walks off. More time passes and finally the rest of our food arrives, even though other tables who came in later were already eating. Throughout the whole thing, they never even gave us rice which comes with the meal.
All of the Koreans I’ve interacted with have been nice – or at least neutral. I’ve never experienced this level of racism in my life. If you didn’t want us there, then why did you fetch us from the market? Not knowing Korean or how the restaurant works, I wouldn’t be surprised if we got overcharged for the preparation of our seafood. I really hope that next time an American interacts with tourists, we treat them with respect and patience. People call our country rude and I sincerely hope there aren’t Americans out there treating people like we were treated. Needless to say, I will not be visiting the Korean fish market again.