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A Guide to Cool “Korean” Things to Buy in Korea

Cool things to buy in korea, things to buy in korea

A Guide to Cool “Korean” Things to Buy in Korea

 

What souvenirs should you buy on your trip to Korea? 

A while ago, I wrote a post on my top 5 favorite Korean souvenir gifts and they still hold true to today, with a few additions. Korea has a lot of cool things to buy. But sometimes it’s hard telling the difference between what’s “Korean” and what’s just “Asian”. This post offers  a two-part video series about what the best “Korean” souvenirs and gifts to buy when you’re in Korea.

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What cool “Korean” things should you buy when you’re in Korea?

As I’ve already discussed the reasons of why they’re Korean in my videos, listed below are  tips and information on where you can get them in Seoul. Also, as my YouTube videos have already had a viewer ask where these things can be bought online, I decided to add some of that information here too.

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A Guide to Cool “Korean”  Things to Buy in Korea (Part I or watch Part II) . Can’t see this? Click here.

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#1.  Korean Drama & K-pop fan stuff

Where:  Itaewon,  Namdaemun,  Myeongdong.

Tip:  Buying DVDs and CDs in Korea isn’t as cheap as you’d think they’d be, but they’re a bit cheaper than the U.S. If you’re buying DVDs or CDs, make sure the DVD is subtitled with your language. I usually look on the back for this information. It’s marked as Region #1 branding and you’ll see your language mentioned (aka “English subtitles”). Here’s a DVD region code table to check which you should get.

Online stores :   Amazon
I bought my dvds from the places below. There’s one seller I used to get dvds from real cheap, even though the site looked sketchy.  I still took a gamble.

stores that sell korean drama stuff

2.  Cute Socks

Cute socks are ubiquitous. Blame it on Korea’s paranoia with  dirty feet! You can find them anywhere from street and metro vendor stalls to Daiso (dollar store).  Cost: 1,000-2,000 won

3.  Korean silverware

Where to buy :  Insadong (traditional goods & souvenirs),  Daiso ( one dollar stores), traditional markets and grocery & household supply stores, such as Emart, HomePlus and Lotte.    Cost :  2,000 won to 24,000won +

A Guide to Cool Things to Buy in Korea (Part II): click here if you can’t see it.

 

4.  Traditional Korean  cutesy items

Where to buy:  Koreans love cute and you’ll find many cute items all around Seoul, in areas such as Hongdae. But for cute souvenirs that spell historical “K.O.R.E.A. “, Insadong is the place. Not only did my mom get me that cute bear in a hanbok there, but I’ve also bought cutesy hand-crafted cellphone holders, wallets and keychains which bear traditional Korean theater mask styles.

I also wouldn’t underestimate trinket or cellphone accessory street vendors  or in the underground metro malls.  I’ve seen keychains with miniature bottles of soju and the Korean won.

A breakdown of Seoul neighborhoods:  9 Places to Make you Fall in Love with Seoul.

cool things to buy in korea

5.  Korean Beauty Products

Myeongdong is the area you’ll have them all the beauty product shops in one place.  But beauty/skin care shops like Faceshop, Missha, Nature Republic, Tony Moly, Hollika Hollika are ubiquitious in Korea. You’ll find them at any multi-department household store and even in underground metros. 

BB cream

I’m a huge fan of BB cream. BB cream has absolutely changed my life from a non-makeup wearing person, to someone who would love to have Song Hye Kyo’s skin in the small time it takes to put on an all-in-one product.  So when I go to Korea, I stock up on them.  Cost:  10,000 -24,000 won. They’re generally over 10,000w, but not by much; especially compared to U.S. prices which are literally, thrice the cost!

Online stores:   Amazon

song hye gyo bb cream, whitening products.

Facial packs

Where to buy: Any beauty care store in Korea.  Cost: 1,000 -15,000 won (depending on single vs. multi-pack)

Tip: These are occasionally free when you walk into a skin care store with a girl holding a basket outside.  Check those baskets they’re passing out! However, beauty care shops also do huge deals on bulk facial packs for relatively cheap.

Weird beauty items

Asia in general has a different aesthetic from the West.  So you’ll find curious novelty items that you might not ordinarily see at home.  How about some double-eyelid tape, a jaw massager to reduce your jawline or even a facial slimming V-Line mask (watch my video here)?

 

6.  Electronics

Where to buy: Check out Yongsan Electronics Mall (located outside Yongsan station), Techno Mall, E-mart and Lotte.

Tip: If you’re going to Yongsan Electronics mall, be prepared to know your prices and negotiate. Not all technology is cheap in Korea. In fact, often I’ve found it to be otherwise.  For haggle stress-less shopping, I’d go to Emart and Lotte.

 

7.  Hanbok

The hanbok is the traditional costume of historical Korea. It is what the kimono is for Japan and the sari is for India. As such today it is still worn by Korean women and men during very special occasions and celebrations.  Cost: Hanboks (top and bottom) run from 130,000 -700,000 Won, depending on the fabric quality.   Hanboks are sold custom made and can take anywhere from one to three weeks.

Where to buy: Dongdaemun & Gwangjang Market

korean hanbok

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8.  Soju

Move over Jack Daniels and Smirnoff, because soju is the drink of this country.  Known as the Korean vodka, soju comes in a little green bottle and is the bitter drink that Koreans often bond to.  What’s the most popular soju to get:  Jinro.  The brand has outperformed even popular liquors in the U.S.  Here’s a fun guide on how to drink soju like a Korean.  Cost: 1,000-3,000 won

Where to buy:  Any grocery or convenience store. If you forget about it, you can buy them at the airport.

Tip: I’ve gotten them at the airport,  because I didn’t want to risk them cracking in my luggage.  If you pack them in your luggage, use your clothes to pad and bundle them. Another alternate is to take a padded wine holder. It’s a great way to transport wine bottles when you’re traveling or just going to a party!

Jinro bottles of soju are out-performing leading western brands of alcohol.

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Where can I get these things if I don’t go to Korea?

Many people can’t afford a trip to Korea but still want to feel a part of culture. I’d suggest hitting your local K-town (aka Korea town) and checking out some of the Korean stores and grocery stores. Korean festivals might also sell some Korean products. Also, beauty product stores are rapidly popping up~ Faceshop, Nature Republic, Missha. You’ll definitely pay export costs on these things, so it’s best gotten in Korea if you can.

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Watch my Top 5 Travel Tips for Seoul & Korean Culture!

What have you bought when you were in Korea? What type of “Korean” gifts souvenirs would you recommend?  

Did you enjoy this post? Let me know in the comments or by sharing it on social media.  Don’t forget you can follow me on Facebook,Instagram and Twitter!

20 Comments

  1. Kristy says:

    Actually you can get metal chopsticks in Malaysia as well as well as metal Chinese soup spoon with long handles so it wouldn’t slide into the big bowl when you are eating noodle soup.

  2. Alex says:

    I always bring back a couple of boxes of the Jejudo chocolates, especially the orange and cactus flavored ones.

  3. Bubble Lau says:

    I have a opposite situation I need help with.. What should I buy to give to my host in Korea from the US? I will be staying in a Hanok in the first part of my tour next week and want to get something from here as a gift for them. Any suggestions? I am from Seattle so I already thinking of smoke salmon from Costco but anything else you might suggest?
    Thanks
    Bubble

  4. cristina jo says:

    I live in Korea….I’m a Korean….

  5. Barbara says:

    Great list of ideas. I’ve even found soju in tetra packs and small plastic bottles (flask shaped). No need to worry about glass breaking.

  6. Christopher says:

    Thank you of these suggestions! Learning what a Hanbok is was interesting.

  7. Caroline says:

    My personal favorite: Korean style $2 chuck (aka Jinro wine). Basically soju fortified grape juice … drank way too much of it during my time in Korea!

  8. Yongsan Electronics Mall is probably going to be my first shopping destination the next time I’m in Seoul, South Korea. Korean electronics is simply amazing. They’re so progressively creative and they last a lifetime. One really gets his money’s worth on such items.

    • Christine Kaaloa says:

      @Hamish: I agree. I love my Korean technology- some of it’s reaaaally advanced. Remember to know your prices before you go. I wouldn’t just take the first price unless you think it’s worth it! =)

  9. Tiaraa says:

    Just when I was planning my Trip to Korea, I see your post! Follow me please.

  10. agnesstramp says:

    Korea is so much like China when it comes to shopping. Chinese are so obsessed with beauty products and clothes. They spend a lot of money on online shopping. Is soju a strong alcoholic drink?

    • Christine Kaaloa says:

      @agnesstramp: Maybe it’s an Asian thing, haha (joking).. Koreans LOVE to shop online too actually. And yes, soju is strong. Not sure why people like the taste.

  11. ladyshura says:

    Hi, I just wanted to let you know that Region 1 DVDs are for US DVD players. Region 2 is Europe, Japan, and a few others.

    • Christine Kaaloa says:

      Thanks for the correction @ladyshura! It’s changed For the longest time I thought it was Region 2 and I have some region 2 dvds in my player. Maybe I have a universal player.

  12. Joella J says:

    I love Korean cute socks ha. There is a tiny shop here in Beijing that only sells cute socks from Korea. It’s my favourite.. 🙂

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