The markets don’t appear to be doing such a swift trade, the odd customer moves in an out of the large warehouse, but otherwise things are quite. It could be a combination of the cold weather and the relative late hour of the day. It has just gone 2pm, in this area of the world it gets dark at about 4:30 in autumn so it’s possible they are winding down for the day. The threat of late autumn snow may also have contributed to the thinning of the market crowd.
Shoppers are mostly female, I assume that, as in Korea, men are at work during the day while women search for the ingredients required for evening meals. Off the streets lined with shops selling discount products and cheap clothing are smaller alleyways. Here the paving ends and it’s up to each person to navigate their path through the mud and debris.
The meat market in HwaRyong, China, is particularly interesting. Stalls are entirely operated by women, clad in several layers of clothing, finally wrapped up in a large plastic overall to protect against blood and such. They sit behind their stalls throughout the day, rising when a customer approaches. Large slabs of meat are displayed in the open for customers to choose from. Blood is smeared on the ground and stains the rubber gloves of the women.
Next to the first stall, as I push through the thick insulator plastic that acts to block out the cold, is the head of what was once a very large cow. It is propped up against a table; the crown of the head has been removed, exposing the brains for passersby to peer at. Bits and pieces of cow, chicken and dog are displayed on counters and on metal hooks behind the stalls. At the far end, close to the exit are three stalls piled high with dog carcasses. They have been shaved and gutted, their heads partially removed but enough left to make the soup for which these animals were intended.
The women move slowly but deliberately, weighted down by several layers of clothing under plastic overalls. They watch me pass with curiosity.
I continue through the meat market and enter the fruit and vegetable market, as with the meat market, undercover and housed separately from the other products. Here also, it is predominantly women who work behind the stalls, selling all manner of products, many of which I don’t know the names of. Coming to the end of the building I exit through the plastic curtain and immediately enter the side dishes market, where a variety of gimchees and other mouth watering pickled products are displayed. At the far end of this building is a restaurant area where products from the three markets are combined to form such dishes as dog soup and chicken broth.
I double back to the beginning of the first market and order half a chicken for the evening meal- dog will wait until the weekend.