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U-High Midway

The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

Through classes, art teachers aim to grow art appreciation

Unique market glows with culture

As K-pop music flows through the aisles and illicit glowing lights illuminate the space, walking into Gangnam Market, a multicultural Asian grocery store and food court, presents you with the feeling of having stepped into a spaceship rather than a supermarket.

All the different sections of the market are labeled with neon signs. “Coldpress bar,” “produce,” “seafood,” “dairy —” the list goes on. The signs hang from the ceiling in every direction, some sporting bubble letters, some cartoonish icons and some entire pictures. Each one immediately competes for your moth-like desire with its tantalizing glow, and you can’t decide where to go first. 

The market opened on Dec. 2, 2023, at 1001 W. Chicago Ave. While its name suggests a focus on  Korean culture, the market offers food and products from all across Asia, and some beyond.

Kenny Yang, the owner of Gangnam Market, emphasized the high-tech feeling of the market as one of the key elements in an interview with NBC Chicago.  

“When people shop I want to give them, like, a feeling of shopping in a futuristic mall,” Mr. Yang told NBC Chicago last month.

The market’s website describes it as “a place where you can embark on an incredible journey of discovery,” and while the phrasing may appear a bit theatrical, there’s most definitely a lot to discover within the walls of the store. 

“Growing up in Chicago, I guess we suffer enough from different issues,” Mr. Yang said, “so when people come into my store and my restaurant, I would like people to feel the happy vibe.” 

The happy vibe of the market can certainly be seen in its glimmering decor — but the allure extends to the products, each of which possesses its own kind of charm. From Hello Kitty ramen packages to coconut water bottles made of full, edible coconuts, there’s a delightful find for everyone at Gangnam Market. 

Craig Vandergalien, a customer, said his favorite part of the market is the exciting variety of chips offered in the snack section.

“I’ve only been here a minute,” Craig said. “But the chip section! Oh, yeah, you gotta check out the chip section. I love the flavors. They have my favorite, the mala hotpot one — and also the ribeye steak one.”

Lena Willens, a first-time customer, said she appreciates both the wide variety of options offered in the food court area to the side of the market. 

“I got the bibimbap and also the spicy siu mai,” Lena said, grinning. “They were both really delicious.”

The grocery store is connected to a small food court that offers an array of culinary delights catering to diverse tastes and preferences, with options available for takeout or dining in. Whether you’re in the mood for sushi, pastries or tacos, you can find it in one of the food stalls in the court along with a large and comfortable seating area. 

Leslie Melendez, a recently hired cashier at one of the checkout counters, said she enjoys noticing all the different things people buy in the market while she scans their items. She believes it provides her with a glimpse into people’s lifestyles and preferences.

“I started working here just last Tuesday,” Leslie said. “It’s my first time working at a grocery store, so it’s been interesting. We get different clients every time, and I love to see, like, what they take and what they would buy from an Asian store.”

Gangnam Market is not only a functional and practical grocery store for stocking your pantry but also an enjoyable space and experience. It welcomes you in with its colorful lights and exciting selection, and you’ll stay for a prolonged stroll through the aisles or a bowl of ramen from the food court.

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About the Contributors
Light Dohrn, Assistant Editor
Light Dohrn is a member of the Class of 2026 and a Midway assistant editor. As a ninth grader, she joined the journalism team during the 2022-23 school year. Her favorite piece she has written for the Midway is “Through authenticity and humor, biology teacher inspires passion among students.” Outside of journalism, she enjoys Middle-Earth fantasy books and Tarantino films. Awards: 2023 Journalism Education Association National Student Media Contests, Boston convention: Excellent, review writing 2023 Journalism Education Association National Student Media Contests, San Francisco convention: Honorable mention, press law and ethics
Peyton Palmer, Photographer
Peyton Palmer is a beginning photojournalist and is a member of the Class of 2026. Her favorite parts of photojournalism are learning how to shoot significant photos and taking pictures for others to enjoy. Outside of photojournalism, Peyton enjoys music and hanging out with family and/or friends. She also participates in U-High tennis. Awards: 2023 Journalism Education Association National Student Media Contests, Boston convention: Honorable mention, first-year photo

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