Whine Wednesdays: Chaotic Repacking Of Duty Free Purchases And Garbage At Seoul Incheon Airport


Travelers heading to Mainland China have a large thirst for Duty Free products from South Korea and usually get rid of all the packaging inside the departure area prior to boarding their flight to have more space for shopping goods.

Unfortunately this often leaves the gate areas in total chaos and while I have so far only read about it, yesterday I had a first hand experience of such an incident at Seoul-Incheon Airport.

When I saw what was going on there I immediately remembered something I wrote about exactly a year ago when Chinese tourists trashed Jeju Airport with their garbage (see the previous article here).

Though the situation in Seoul wasn’t all that messy as the one in Jeju it still takes up lots of space in the departure area and often the trash isn’t disposed of properly.

Those familiar with Incheon Airport might know the quiet rest & relaxation area on the upper level of the satellite terminal where the lounges are located. That was the space (mis)used for the packing action.

Most of the area was relatively organized and the people also disposed of most packaging:

 This lady did some larger scale shopping with the products spread in a wide radius around her:

I’m not sure this should take place in the Quiet Area that is specifically designed for people to relax. At least it was somewhat on the sidelines and no screaming was involved. As far as I could tell the garbage had been piled up on pretty much one place and not all over the gate area.


There is nothing wrong with shopping to such a large extend even though these people will very likely break the customs limits of whatever country they are going to enter and smuggle the merchandise in for resale back home. It’s a very good, entrepreneurial way to finance your holiday.

As long as these people tidy up after themselves there is nothing wrong with it. In fact it looks like the individuals here are doing this very professionally (probably multiple times a month) while those individuals at Jeju Island are often way over the line judging by the pictures made public by airport workers there.

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