I recall the day I decided to visit the biggest Fisher’s Market in Seoul. It was one of the freezing cold days, just like other mediocre days of winter in Korea. I was holding an old film camera that my father handed me as a gift. Mounting Black and White film, I stepped into the entrance. And there, this little kitty seemed to be abandoned but at the same time, be cared by someone was staring at me.
The market was crowded, surrounded by noises of negotiating the prices amongst people, and merchants were getting attention from people, shouting how freshly alive the fishes are. Some passed by while others were carefully observing every little flipping the alive creatures did on round nets. They were, certainly, alive. Flipped, Flipped.
Once a fish is sold, a merchant grabbed it and put it on the wooden cutting board, then, cut the head off right away. While all that was happening, the customer was observing the entire process. Still, the fish was flipping its tail.
She was the most friendly merchant, who welcomed me for a photoshoot. Holding an alive fish, with her bare hand, she showed me it is not scary at all to grab it. “It has been almost thirty years of being here.” She said, “I let all my kids successfully get into good universities, selling fishes right here for that long.”
“Look how it is fresh.”
On a side of the market, steamed stuffed-pork intestines were on a metal table. Somehow grotesque looking due to the way it is presented, the heads were scattered. Why pork in a fish market? Well, it seemed to be for the merchants’ lunch, not for general visitors.
Not one fish was dead, because then, no one would bravely buy it. This is a typical Korean tradition, and the market itself tells you the way how Korean usually eat fish. If not alive, they do not commonly value as a rare fish. Called Hoi(회), or for those of you who do not know Korean term but only know Japanese, Sashimi it is.
All photos were taken by Diesel Kang, in 35mm film format.