Seoul Vegan & International Handmade Fair

Okay, so I have realized that the title might be somewhat misleading. I’m actually blogging about two separate festivals, but they were both on the same day. Like most people, I love to eat. I was also a strict vegetarian for 10 years, so I’m quite familiar with vegan/veg cuisine. Also, you know know that craft fairs are my kryptonite.

I know, I know. I shouldn’t let the whole internet know my greatest weakness, but trust me, I am a sucker for other people’s stuff and things, especially when it’s stuff and things that they made. I’ll gladly dumpster dive for housewares or get most of my wardrobe from a clothing swap, but I’ll shell out an easy 20,000 won on a homemade candle all day every day.

I wanted to make sure I cover the vegan festival as well because I find it to be so…rare. Not only does is veganism not really a thing here (although I’m sure you can argue that is has become more mainstream in recent years, etc., etc.), but because it’s done here…so peacefully. As in, it’s a genuinely fun event where vegans and nonvegans alike can go to and just enjoy themselves. I feel that if there were a vegan fair in the states, the whole thing would be massively political and PETA would be there jamming propaganda down your throat. I also think it would be so pretentious that it wouldn’t even be worth the plethora of fresh, organic vegetables. Yeah, we get it. You have vegan powers. You’re special and we aren’t. Move along now.

This sign was basically as “political” as it got, and to be honest, I found it quite cute.

But this vegan festival isn’t like that at all. I actually went to my first Seoul one two years ago, and I felt the exact same away. There wasn’t any snobbery, just vendors excited for you to buy their or vegan crafts. Lines were long, as any Seoulite is long used to, but it was bearable. There were plenty of food options available. There were more western than Korean options available, but I still felt there was some diversity.

There were plenty more crafty things that I would have bought, but I wanted to save my money for the International Handmade Fair. I remember buying incense from the same company the last time I was there, and I was quite impressed. Plus, it was only 7,000 won, and it comes with a complimentary burner. Not pictured is how I bought a large reusable straw and cleaning brush (great for smoothies!) for only 5,000. While some of the items there were definitely out of my price range (12,000 won for a measly bar of vegan soap?!), I found that prices were fair. Same went for food. I mean, it’s vegan food, so it wasn’t as cheap as your typical food truck, but I felt that what I did buy was nutritious, filling, and worth my money.

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I would have bought and eaten everything, but I was absolutely stuffed from what I had eaten. I quite literally waddled for the rest of the day.

A super popular stand was a donut stand. It was…an interesting experience. I’m not gonna knock it. I did enjoy it. It tasted quite good, and I thought my green tea one with (jam?) inside was a good flavor combination. It was very surprising, though. Besides having the same weight as your average paperweight, this was the messiest thing I have ever eaten. Like, literally. I felt like a toddler with god knows what all over my hands and face. You cannot eat this delicately. When you are in this large crowd of vegans and vegan supporters and you look like you smeared a jar of mashed peas and purpley whatever on your face, you become humbled. Anyway, I’m thankful for it. I tell myself it was a superfood and that somehow negates all my secret late night tortilla chip and salsa binge parties while the dog glares at me in disgust.

I felt that I couldn’t have a legitimate enjoyable food experience without a coconut curry. This was just awesome. The people at Sprout are always so friendly, and their food is good. They don’t skimp out on portions, either. Again, lots of veggies. Fibers and such. Keep glutting out, Jess. Also, green stuff. ::Pats self on back::

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This burgery delight was all the rage. Waiting in line for this thing could only be compared to waiting in line for Splash Mountain on a 95 degree day. Oh, but it was so worth it. I like to lowkey pride myself on knowing a thing or two about veggie burgers, as I have consumed them at countless chain restaurants back in the states way back in the day. (It was always the veggie burger or clinically depressed portobello mushroom sandwich that I would have to choose between.) But…what was the “meat” made out of? It’s not your typical veggie burger. I creeped on google, but I couldn’t find my answer. I’m genuinely curious. It wasn’t dry at all, and I really enjoyed the texture. I genuinely plan to visit this actual restaurant soon now, as I have never been.

So after I spent way too much money and felt rather satiated, we went across town to the Seoul International Handmade Fair. I have to be totally honest–I was quite scared. I went to an “indie craft fair” at COEX two years ago, and it was a complete waste of my time. It was mostly old style Korean pottery and overpriced room fresheners.

The entrance fee was 10,000 won, and there was no backing down now. If this was going to be more pottery and pretentious blocks of floral whatever, at least I could get my steps in and burn off some of what I had eaten at the vegan fair. But I really have to say: this was the best craft fair I had been to in years. It very much exceeded my expectations.

One thing I actually loved was how English friendly it was and how eager the vendors were to discuss their products. I found the prices to be super affordable, and one vendor even did the good ol’ “Korean service”, where she gave me a little something extra as a thank you for buying from you. I just absolutely love that. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. 🙂

I didn’t buy from this stand, but my friend did. I thought it would be great to feature them, as they have little youtube tutorials you can follow along in both English and Korean. I also quite like the sheer background, which gives a nice touch to it all.

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I love embroidery hoops, and I already had a couple on my wall that I actually bought at Target in the states. I have a small kit here, and I have good intentions to make my own soon. Anyway, I found this particular vendor to be adorable because she hand-paints them, and she’s from Jeju Island, focusing on the Haenyo. The two pieces on the right are what I bought from here. You can see more of her work here.

It’s no surprise that I’m obsessed with candles and a lowkey candle hoarder. I love crafts of a variety of mediums, and I hope to take a candle making class someday while I am here. If you are reading this, and you know one in English, please let me know! I found these candles to be great and well made. I got the “Love Spell” one. Haha, let’s see how that works out!

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Last, but certainly not least, (I had to save the best for last!) were corgi butts. This company makes little tiny teacups with corgi butts on the inside. How adorable is this? I bought a set for my newlywed friends who not so secretly fantasize about having a corgi of their own someday.

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