A cart vendor in Seoul (May 2000).
(Please read this before you copy our photos or text.)

I hope you aren't much one for sleeping in, because in Korea, the wandering vendors hit the street early in the morning. They're not especially quiet. The trucks blare endlessly repeated metallic voices from their loudspeakers. The traditional cart vendors, like this one, flail at gongs and other noisemakers as they trundle along.

These folks are the low end of the entrepreneureal scale in Korea. No doubt some of them do OK, but many are just barely subsisting on their small businesses. At night they park their carts outside their tiny apartments or hanok (old, shabby traditional houses) and cover them with tarps. They trust that nobody will steal their cart or merchandise, and generally no one does. I can't help but think about how far that would get them if they lived in your standard American or European city. But this is Korea. It's different here.

They're noisy and they clog the sidewalks, but this is about all they have for making a living, so I can't imagine the Korean government ever sending them home. Besides, if you're careful, you can get some tremendous bargains from them. They sell just about everything from garlic to fresh chicken to toilet paper.

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