Tongyeong is best known for its najeon chilgi (lacquerware). These are wooden boxes inlaid with elaborate mother-of-pearl designs before being lacquered to a shiny finish. The lacquerware became popular during the Shilla period (A.D. 668-935), although the craft dates farther back, to the Naklang period. During the reign of King Munjong of the Goryeo Dynasty, the government ran workshops to make najeon chilgi. The elaborate boxes made from these workshops were given as gifts to foreign kings and envoys. There's even a Najeon Chilgi Festival in August (during the Hansandae Festival). The beautiful works of art are small enough to tuck into your suitcase and make nice gifts. Be sure to shop around for the best prices, since works by master craftsmen and antiques will be way more expensive than less elaborate pieces.
A bustling traditional market in town is the Seoho Shijang, across from the ferry terminal. Here you can find halmuhni (grandmas) selling fresh fish and seafood. The large Tongyeong Traditional Craft Hall, 642 Beonji, Donam-dong, Tongyeong-si (tel. 055/645-3266), is a good place to buy lacquerware as well as other local craft items, like hand fans, wooden trays, and items made form abalone shells. A couple of smaller markets include the Geobuk Shijang (Turtle Market) in Taepyeong-dong and the Jung-ang Live Fish Market (the name says it all) near Ganguan Port in Dongho-dong.
For more modern shopping options, there's the Lotte Mart in Bukshin-dong, not far from the bus terminal and the main post office.