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What to give a Korean friend?


Korean culture is rich in tradition and customs, and gift-giving is no exception. Whether it’s for a special occasion or just as a gesture of friendship, giving a gift to a Korean friend can be a meaningful way to show your appreciation for their company. However, it can be challenging to know what to give, as there are certain etiquette rules to follow. In this article, we’ll explore some ideas and tips on what to give a Korean friend.

Understanding Korean Gift-Giving Etiquette

Before we dive into specific gifts, it’s essential to understand the etiquette behind gift-giving in Korea. Firstly, gifts should be wrapped beautifully as presentation is crucial. Secondly, Koreans will often refuse a gift at least once or twice before accepting it, so persistence is key. Thirdly, it’s important to consider the value of the gift; while you don’t need to spend a lot of money, the gift should be thoughtful and show effort.

Food Gifts

Food gifts are always appreciated in Korean culture, and there are many options to choose from. Traditional Korean snacks like rice cakes or seaweed are a great choice, or you could opt for something more exotic like dried squid or kimchi. If you’re unsure about your friend’s taste preferences, you could consider a gift certificate to a popular Korean restaurant or food market.

Cultural Gifts

Koreans take pride in their cultural heritage, so a gift that reflects this would be well-received. Items such as traditional fans or tea sets are popular choices. You could also consider giving a book on Korean history or culture or a Korean language learning kit.

Beauty Products

K-beauty has taken the world by storm in recent years, so gifting your friend with some popular beauty products would be a great choice. Korean sheet masks, lip tints, and face creams are all popular choices. However, it’s important to consider your friend’s skin type and preferences before making a purchase.


Accessories like scarves, hats, or gloves are practical gifts that can come in handy during the colder months. Korean fashion is known for its unique style, so you could opt for a gift that incorporates traditional Korean design elements.

Technology Gifts

Koreans are tech-savvy, so a technology gift could be a great choice. Headphones, phone cases or charging cables are all practical and thoughtful options. If you’re feeling a bit more generous, you could consider gifting a new smartphone or tablet.

Alcohol Gifts

Koreans love to drink, and there are many traditional alcoholic beverages to choose from. Soju is a popular choice, but other options include makgeolli (rice wine) or cheongju (clear rice wine). You could also consider a gift set that includes traditional drinking accessories like shot glasses or bottle openers.

Gifts for Special Occasions

If you’re attending a special event such as a wedding or birthday party, it’s customary to bring a gift. For weddings, cash is the most common gift, while for birthdays or other celebrations, you could consider a more traditional gift such as a hanbok (traditional Korean clothing) or jewelry.

DIY Gifts

If you’re on a budget or want to add a personal touch to your gift, consider making something yourself. Korean crafts such as paper lanterns or origami would make great gifts. Alternatively, you could bake some traditional Korean sweets like yaksik (sweet rice cake) or yakgwa (honey cookies).

Gift-Giving Don’ts

While there are many gift-giving options to choose from, there are also some things to avoid. Avoid gifting items in sets of four as it’s considered unlucky in Korean culture. Similarly, avoid gifting sharp objects like knives or scissors as they symbolize the severing of a relationship.


In conclusion, gift-giving is an important aspect of Korean culture, and there are many thoughtful and meaningful gifts to choose from. By following the etiquette rules and considering your friend’s preferences, you can show your appreciation and strengthen your friendship. Whether it’s a traditional Korean snack or a high-tech gadget, the most important thing is to put effort and thought into your gift.

What do Korean people like as a gift?

Gifts related to health are popular in Korea, including supplements, teas, vitamins, and red ginseng. Ginseng is a suitable gift for Korean in-laws. Additionally, high-end food products like Hanwoo beef, pricey mushrooms, and wild ginseng are also good options for gifts.

What to bring to a Korean friends house?

Along with other items, it is acceptable to bring flowers, fruits, alcohol, coffee, and meats to the Chuseok harvest celebration. However, it is safest to stick with bringing fruits.

What are Korean good luck charms?

Korean culture has many traditional good luck charms that are believed to bring wealth and protect against bad luck. A popular example is the Pujok, a yellow piece of paper with patterns and symbols that is said to fend off negative energy and attract good luck.

What do Koreans value the most?

Even in modern times, Korean values prioritize hard work, obedience within the family, protection of the family, and appropriate behavior amongst family members.

How do Koreans show appreciation?

When expressing gratitude or offering an apology, the deepest and most respectful bow involves bending the torso to around a 45-degree angle or an angle that requires the head to be lifted to make eye contact with the other person. The head is kept lowered during this greeting to show utmost respect.

What do Korean people value?

The Korean culture places great emphasis on respect for family, diligence, safeguarding family members, and proper behavior within the family, even in today’s society. It is essential to be formally introduced at social events.

It’s also worth noting that gift-giving in Korea is often reciprocal. If your Korean friend gives you a gift, it’s polite to return the gesture. This doesn’t mean you need to spend the same amount or give something extravagant; a thoughtful and heartfelt gift will suffice.

When giving a gift to a group of Koreans, it’s customary to bring something that can be shared, such as a box of chocolates or a fruit basket. This shows your consideration for the group as a whole, and everyone can enjoy the gift together.

If you’re unsure about what to give, don’t hesitate to ask your Korean friend for suggestions. They will appreciate your efforts to respect their culture and will likely provide helpful guidance on what would make a meaningful gift.

In conclusion, gift-giving in Korea is a way to show appreciation, respect, and strengthen relationships. With these tips and ideas in mind, you can confidently choose a gift that will be well-received and cherished by your Korean friends.

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