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What to gift a Korean friend?


Gift-giving is a universal concept that has been practiced for centuries. It is a way to show appreciation, love, and gratitude to someone. However, choosing the perfect gift can be a daunting task, especially if you are unfamiliar with the recipient’s culture. This article aims to guide you on what to gift a Korean friend.

Cultural Considerations

Before choosing a gift, it is essential to understand Korean culture. Koreans value relationships and respect hierarchy. They also have a strong sense of social responsibility and etiquette. Therefore, it is important to choose a gift that reflects these values.

Traditional Gifts

Koreans have many traditional gifts that they give during special occasions. For example, during Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving), Koreans give hanbok (traditional Korean clothing), songpyeon (rice cakes), and fruit baskets. For weddings, Koreans give money in an envelope called “baedal” or “chonji.”

Food and Beverages

Koreans love food and beverages, and they appreciate good quality and unique flavors. Therefore, gifting Korean snacks, tea sets, or traditional Korean liquor like soju or makgeolli can be an excellent choice. You can also consider gifting international cuisine like chocolates, coffee beans, or wine.

Cosmetics and Skincare

Korean skincare and cosmetics have gained worldwide popularity due to their high quality and innovative ingredients. Gifting Korean skincare products like sheet masks, facial creams or makeup products from popular brands like Laneige or Innisfree can be a thoughtful and useful gift.

Stationery Items

Koreans place great importance on education and studying. Therefore, gifting stationery items like notebooks, pens, or planners can be practical and appreciated by your Korean friend. You can also consider gifting a traditional Korean calligraphy set.

Technology and Gadgets

Koreans are known for their love of technology and gadgets. Therefore, gifting the latest smartphones, smartwatches, or Bluetooth earphones can be an excellent choice. However, ensure that the gadget is compatible with Korea’s technology and has a Korean language option.

Home Decor and Accessories

Koreans take pride in their homes and often decorate them with modern or traditional items. Gifting home decor items like vases, cushions, or wall art can be a thoughtful and personal gift. You can also consider gifting Korean traditional accessories like fans or umbrellas.

Music and Entertainment

Korean pop culture has taken the world by storm, and K-pop music has become a global phenomenon. Gifting K-pop albums, concert tickets, or merchandise from popular bands like BTS or Blackpink can be an exciting gift for your Korean friend.

Outdoor Activities

Koreans love outdoor activities like hiking, camping, or fishing. Therefore, gifting outdoor gear like backpacks, tents, or fishing rods can be a perfect gift for your nature-loving Korean friend. You can also consider gifting fitness equipment like yoga mats or resistance bands.

Personalized Gifts

Personalized gifts are always appreciated as they show that you have put thought and effort into the gift. You can consider gifting a personalized item like a photo album, keychain, or engraved jewelry with your Korean friend’s name or initials.

Gift Wrapping and Presentation

In Korean culture, presentation is as important as the gift itself. Therefore, ensure that you wrap the gift beautifully with colorful wrapping paper, ribbons, and bows. You can also add a handwritten note expressing your appreciation and well wishes.


Choosing the perfect gift for your Korean friend can be a challenging task, but with this guide, you can make an informed decision. Remember to consider Korean culture and values when choosing a gift and ensure that it is thoughtful and personalized. Lastly, present the gift beautifully, and your Korean friend will appreciate your gesture of friendship and goodwill.

What do Korean people like as a gift?

In Korea, health supplements, teas, vitamins, and red ginseng make excellent gifts, especially when giving to Korean in-laws. Additionally, high-end food products like Hanwoo beef, expensive mushrooms, and wild ginseng are also good options for gifts.

What to bring to a Korean friends house?

For the harvest celebration of Chuseok, it is traditional to bring good food, including flowers, fruits, alcohol, coffee, and meats. However, it is recommended to err on the side of caution and just bring fruits.

What do Koreans value the most?

Even in today’s modern world, Korean values place a high importance on hard work, obeying and protecting one’s family, and maintaining proper behavior within the household.

What are Korean good luck charms?

There are various Korean Good Luck Charms that are used to bring wealth and protect against bad luck. An example is the Pujok, which is a yellow paper with symbols and patterns that is believed to ward off negative spirits and attract good luck.

Do Koreans say thank you for gifts?

The phrase “juda” is often used in combination with “gamsahamnida” to express gratitude for a gift, with “seonmul” referring specifically to the gift in question. This phrase can also be used to convey thanks for someone’s interest in English.

How to gift someone in South Korea?

There are multiple ways to send a gift to someone. You can send it through the postal service, a private courier company (such as Eurosender for affordable rates), or purchase a gift online to be delivered to your intended recipient in South Korea. Another option is to transfer money directly to your recipient through a wire transfer.

Gift Giving Etiquette

When giving a gift in Korea, there are some etiquette rules to follow. Firstly, it is considered polite to use both hands when giving and receiving a gift. It is also customary to refuse a gift at first, but the giver should insist on the recipient accepting it. Additionally, it is important to avoid giving gifts in multiples of four as the number four is considered unlucky in Korean culture.

When Not to Give a Gift

While gift-giving is a common practice in Korea, there are some situations where it may not be appropriate. Avoid giving expensive gifts to your Korean friend if you have only known them for a short time or if you do not have a close relationship with them. Additionally, avoid giving gifts that are too personal or intimate, as this can be seen as inappropriate.

Corporate Gifts

If you are giving a gift in a corporate setting, it is important to choose an appropriate gift that does not violate any company policies or ethical standards. It is also important to consider the hierarchy and rank of the recipient, as higher-ranking employees may expect more expensive gifts. In general, practical gifts like office supplies or food baskets are appropriate for corporate settings.

Thank You Notes

After receiving a gift from your Korean friend, it is important to send a thank you note expressing your gratitude. This gesture shows that you appreciate their gift and strengthens your relationship with them. You can send a handwritten note or an email thanking them for their thoughtful gift.


In conclusion, gift-giving is an essential part of Korean culture, and choosing the perfect gift requires careful consideration of cultural values and etiquette. Whether you are giving a gift for a special occasion or as a gesture of friendship, ensure that it is thoughtful, personalized and beautifully presented. By following the gift-giving etiquette and sending a thank you note, you can strengthen your relationship with your Korean friend and show your appreciation for their kindness.

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