Here’s your guide to Christmas Presents From Korea to give to your loved ones this year.
With the holidays approaching soon and the recent drop in temperatures, there’s a definite internal conflict between wanting to do holiday shopping and the simultaneous desire to stay buried under the covers in your cozy socks, with a hot mug of yujacha (유자차). If your family exchanges gifts during the holiday season, sending a little something from Korea is an easy way to make sure your parents, your besties—even your dog—will feel the holiday cheer from thousands of miles away.
If you’re looking for some easy, last-minute gift ideas to get in the mail soon, look no further… Here are seven gift ideas that will have friends and family feeling the love from far away.
1. Hahoe traditional mask
One of Korea’s national treasures, these Joseon-era masks are an important part of drama performances dating back hundreds of years. They are easy to pick up in more traditionally culture-focused areas like Seoul’s Insadong, or some of the folk villages around the country. They’re usually pretty lightweight, so shipping won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
Give to: the history buff in your life.
2. Dojang (Hangeul name stamp)
A common practice in Korea is to use a custom seal with your name as a signature on official documents. Translate a loved one’s name into Hangeul (here’s a quick comic if you need a crash course in Hangeul) and have it etched into one of these stamps. You can find these in a lot of places, and because they’re small, they’re very easy to send. It will run you about $30-40, and sometimes the maker will even throw in a case for the stamp.
Give to: anyone! Personalized gifts are big crowd-pleasers.
3. Korean skin care goodies
Ah, yes, no list of gift ideas would be complete without mentioning the booming Korean cosmetics industry. You can buy a bulk set of sheet masks and divvy them up to a gaggle of friends back home, or tuck them in with a gift set of other lotions and potions that your siblings or friends might be curious to try. In addition to skin care, makeup and nail polishes are popular and make fun gifts as well.
Give to: the beauty geek in your life; your sister/best friend; or use as stocking stuffers.
4. Fun stationery items
As trendy as they are adorable, the stationery selections in Korea are on-point. Not to mention that stationery is the gift that keeps on giving: friends receiving these will possibly be inclined to write you letters or notes to tuck in care packages. Or just send them because they’re cute and whimsical. Any Kyobo Bookstore will have its own department for stationery that will take quite a while to browse completely. (Try not to adopt a ‘one-for-my-sister, one-for-me policy’ when putting things in your shopping basket so you don’t blow your holiday budget.)
Give to: the grandmother who loves to write you letters, or a stationery-aficionado friend.
5. Green tea
The most famous Korean tea company is probably Osulloc, based in Jeju and known for producing fine green tea. Research has demonstrated many ways that green tea can benefit your health, so what better way to show a loved one that you care about their longterm well-being than to send them some healthy, antioxidant-rich green tea? With the winter months settling in, it’s also a great gift to keep cozy with.
Give to: anyone! But especially consider giving to friends who get cold easily—nothing makes winter more bearable for these friends than having a mug of something warm in their hands.
7. A Korean jewellery box
Korean jewellery boxes are absolutely beautiful—there’s just no denying it. They are usually lacquered wood with abalone inlay done to show cranes flying, peacocks, or perhaps a leaf motif. The larger ones can get a little bit pricey, but they’re stunning and anyone receiving one will love it.
Give to: Mom. (When I visited my parents after my first year in Korea, I brought one of these home with me. It is still very proudly on display.)
7. Traditional Korean games
Games like yut nori and go-stop are longstanding holiday pastimes in Korea and don’t have too many pieces to keep track of. Yut nori is played a small board (usually made of stitched cloth), place markers, and small sticks that are cast like dice during the game. There is plenty of interesting lore around how this game can be used for fortunetelling, so be sure to send along the stories, too. Go-stop is a card game that revolves around trying to score predetermined number of cards. Ribbon cards, bright cards, and animal cards are how you accumulate points during the game, with each bringing in different amounts, but junk cards are definitely the most popular way to go. Don’t forget to send the rules for the games, too!
Give to: your friend that loves game nights
Bonus! A doggie hanbok
No, really. If you have a canine you’re missing back home, see about picking one of these up for them. They’re colorful, fun, and lightweight. You’ll usually find them for small breeds, so perhaps not the best idea if your family dog is medium-sized or larger.
Give to: Trixie, the family pooch you won’t admit that you miss more than your siblings. (Hey, it’s totally valid since siblings know how to Skype, and Trixie hasn’t yet mastered “roll over.”)
But hey, what about you?
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