I can’t remember the number of times my friends bought ladies’ bags at Dongdaemun Fashion Market for me to bring home as presents. Just last month, my friends Joy, Jo and Vanji were (again!) at the NPH bag market in Dongdaemun and they asked me through a text message whether I would want to buy a red bag they saw for my mom. I glady said ‘yes’! For KRW35,000, the red bag was reasonably priced and they saved me a trip! I sent a photo of the bag to my mom; she’s excited already! But when my former colleagues in Manila came to Seoul last week, they asked me to bring them to Dongdaemun for some shopping. That time, I thought, it would be my first time to finally set foot at that notoriously famous bag market! We arrived in front of the Doota building in Dongdaemun on a cab and just walked through the shopping underpass to cross to the other side. In Dongdaemun, as in other shopping centers in Seoul, the underpass is usually full of shops selling fashion items such as shoes, dresses and shirts. The NPH or NamPyeongHwa Building is actually on the side of Dongdaemun that’s next to the Cheonggye Stream. Looking at the map, I think it’s closer to the Dongdaemun Station (Exit 7), than the Dongdaemun Culture and History Park Station. The two stations are different, by the way. Interestingly, the bag market, which is at basement level 1 of the NPH Building opens at midnight and closes at noon the next day. Yes, midnight! The witching hour! Not that the vendors should remind us of the Underworld; it’s just that they sell wholesale at the underground. Some bag shops from other parts of the city actually source their wares from here. That’s why you would see some guys carrying huge packages full of bags that are to be delivered elsewhere. The bag market is a labyrinth of shops after shops with bags of different styles hanging and laying on the display racks. Backpacks, school bags, small and big bags, casual and formal-looking hand bags are all everywhere.