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E-mart Freak-out!

Pusan, South Korea


To experience E-mart is to experience modern Korean shopping. I believe they take many of their practices from the Japanese; the navy blue uniforms with slouch socks, the deep bow and greeting you receive at the door and the veritable army of clerks. They are at every juncture within the infrastructure of the store. If you are browsing electronics you will be within eyesight and earshot of at least three to four salespeople. This is very helpful, to be sure, but also a bit intimidating. I like to browse at my leisure and feel I am on display when I shop in these stores. Even the grocery section of the store has sample women at every turn and representatives for cereal, fish and produce waiting to help you.
I found myself braving E-mart after a long night out, I was hung-over, tired and just wanted to get out of the house. This, my friends, was the wrong place to come. E-mart is a multi-story department store that includes a grocery floor as well. It is usually packed and brimming full with people and I found this to be none too helpful to my bleary eyed state that day. I was wandering around aimlessly trying to find the groceries and ended up taking the winding escalators up into unknown regions of the store. I glimpsed every possible product imaginable and was being jostled and bumped by what seemed like every person in Busan.
An interesting aside, people in Busan seem to have the same hard worn tenacity of the people of Chicago or New York. I know there must be a phrase to say excuse me in Korean but it is rarely used on the streets or in stores. Perhaps they are just more used to being in more confined spaces, I do not know, but you will find yourself pushed out of the way. Not in a violent manner but just sort of glossed over by passersby as if you are all one large school of fish.
Back to E-mart. I kept traveling up and up the escalators looking for the grocery section and found myself out of luck. Instead of trying to navigate the slow moving walkways again I looked for an elevator. These too proved to be obnoxious, slow and very infrequent. After about an hour of unproductive work I found my way to the grocery section and made my purchases.
I have since been to E-mart a few more times and have been able to negotiate my way around fairly well. I guess that practice does improve most everything.


permalink written by  Native_Kurtz on February 3, 2008 from Pusan, South Korea
from the travel blog: South Korea - Busan - Teaching Abroad
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