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What do Koreans like to receive as gifts?

What Do Koreans Like to Receive as Gifts?


Koreans have a culture of giving and receiving gifts, which is an essential part of their social life. The gifts they give or receive are not just material goods, but they also hold significant cultural and social significance. This article will explore the gift-giving culture in Korea and what Koreans like to receive as gifts.

Cultural Significance of Gift Giving

Gift-giving is an integral part of Korean culture, and it is considered a way of showing respect, gratitude, and appreciation. Koreans believe that gift-giving is a way of building and strengthening relationships, especially in business settings.

Occasions for Gift Giving

There are several occasions when Koreans exchange gifts, such as weddings, birthdays, graduations, promotions, and housewarming parties. It is also customary to give gifts during traditional holidays such as Chuseok and Lunar New Year.

Types of Gifts

Koreans prefer gifts that are practical and functional, rather than extravagant or luxurious items. Some popular gift options include traditional Korean snacks and tea sets, health supplements, cosmetics, and household appliances.

Gift Wrapping

Gift wrapping is a crucial aspect of gift-giving in Korea. Koreans believe that the way a gift is wrapped shows how much effort and care the giver has put into preparing the gift. Therefore, they use high-quality wrapping paper and ribbons to make the gift look presentable.

Taboos in Gift-Giving

In Korea, there are certain taboos regarding gift-giving that one should be aware of. For instance, giving clocks or watches is considered bad luck because it symbolizes running out of time. Similarly, giving sharp objects such as knives or scissors can represent cutting off a relationship.

Corporate Gift-Giving

In the corporate world, gift-giving is a common practice in Korea. It is customary to give gifts to clients or business partners as a way of building and maintaining relationships. However, there are strict regulations in place to prevent corruption and bribery.

Gift Exchange Etiquette

Koreans have specific etiquette when it comes to gift-giving. For instance, it is customary to decline a gift at least once before accepting it to show modesty and humility. Also, when receiving a gift, Koreans typically express their appreciation by bowing or using polite language.

Age and Gender Considerations

The type of gift one gives in Korea may vary depending on the recipient’s age and gender. For example, older people prefer traditional Korean items such as hanboks or antiques. Women prefer cosmetics or skincare products, while men favor suits or electronic gadgets.

Personalized Gifts

Personalized gifts are becoming increasingly popular in Korea. People are opting for customized or handmade items that reflect the recipient’s interests, hobbies or personality. Examples include personalized phone cases, jewelry, and handmade pottery.

Gift Giving in the Digital Age

Technology has revolutionized the way Koreans exchange gifts. Nowadays, people can send e-gift cards or online vouchers as presents. Additionally, social media platforms such as Instagram have become a popular platform for sharing gift ideas and recommendations.


In conclusion, gift-giving is an essential aspect of Korean culture that holds significant cultural and social significance. Koreans prefer practical and functional gifts that reflect the recipient’s age and gender. Gift-giving etiquette is also crucial in Korea, and it is essential to be aware of taboos and customs when exchanging gifts in this culture.

What is the gift giving etiquette in Korea?

In this culture, gifts are given and received with both hands, and it is considered impolite to open wrapped gifts in front of the giver. It is recommended that gifts be wrapped nicely in bright colors, avoiding black, darker colors, and red, which can be associated with death.

What are Korean good luck charms?

In Korean culture, there are various traditional charms that are believed to bring wealth and protect against bad luck. One of these is the Pujok, which is a yellow piece of paper adorned with symbols and designs. This talisman is said to have the power to repel malevolent spirits and attract positive energy.

How to gift someone in South Korea?

There are multiple options to send a gift to someone, including mailing it through the postal service or a private courier such as Eurosender. You could also purchase a gift online and have it shipped directly to the recipient in South Korea. Another possibility is to send the recipient money via a wire transfer.

What do Koreans value the most?

Even in today’s modern era, Korean values place a great importance on hard work, respecting and protecting the family, and maintaining proper behavior and etiquette within the family unit.

What not to give as a gift in Korea?

It is advisable to avoid giving expensive gifts to Koreans as they may feel compelled to reciprocate with a gift of equal value. Gifts such as knives or scissors should also be avoided as they may symbolize ending a relationship. Additionally, gifts with green headwear or red writing should be avoided as they may denote death, as well as gifts that are in a set of four.

How do Koreans show appreciation?

The most sincere way to express gratitude or apology is by performing a deep and respectful bow. This involves bending the torso at an angle of approximately 45 degrees or enough for the head to be lowered in respect while facing the other person. The head is kept down throughout this gesture.

Environmental Considerations

In recent years, there has been a growing awareness of environmental issues in Korea, and people are becoming more conscious of the impact of their actions on the planet. As a result, eco-friendly gifts are gaining popularity in the country. Examples include reusable water bottles, bamboo products, and organic food items.

Charitable Gift-Giving

Charitable gift-giving is also becoming more common in Korea. People are choosing to donate money or goods to charitable organizations instead of giving traditional gifts. This type of gift-giving allows individuals to give back to society while also expressing their appreciation for the recipient.

Regional Differences

It is important to note that gift-giving customs can vary across different regions in Korea. For example, in Jeju Island, it is customary to give tangerines or oranges as gifts during Lunar New Year, while in Gyeongsang Province, dried fish is a popular gift option.

International Gift-Giving

With the increasing globalization of Korean culture, international gift-giving has become more common. When giving gifts to people from different cultures, it is essential to be aware of cultural taboos and customs. For example, in some cultures, giving a clock as a gift is considered rude.


In conclusion, gift-giving is an important part of Korean culture that reflects social and cultural values. Koreans prefer practical and functional gifts that reflect the recipient’s age and gender. It is important to be aware of gift-giving etiquette and customs when exchanging gifts in this culture. With the increasing globalization of Korean culture, it is also important to be aware of cultural differences when giving gifts internationally.

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