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Top 5 souvenirs to bring back from Korea

cute korean guy, i love you in korean, heart in korean

What would you bring back from Korea?

On my recent trip to Korea (and incidentally, my mother’s return from her Korean drama tour), the subject of souvenir gifts weighed as a topic on my mind… Why? Because I’ve gotta bring back souvenirs for family and friends! But oi… what to get?

If you’re visiting Korea and shopping for holiday stocking stuffers or just bringing back some good ole souvenirs for friends and family, which won’t load down your luggage like a bag of bricks, here’s some fun and interesting ideas for you. Check out my video and buying tips here.

Top 5 souvenirs to buy in Korea:

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1. K-drama and K-pop paraphernalia

If you have friends and family who are fans of Korean dramas and K-pop like I do, then this is probably at the top of your list! You can find calendars, socks and notebooks, all plastered with the faces of your favorite Korean celebs! But idol shops aren’t easy to find and there aren’t as many as you’d think. You’ll find a few in Insadong, Namdaemun usually doubling as souvenir shops; but according to Khanh in Korea, Myeongdong is your real shopping haven (read here).

But just an interesting note for the idol obsessed: while Korea manufactures the star power, it’s Japan that’s got the dibs on carrying variety when it comes to fan-obsessed glitteratzi! As I recently found on my trip to Japan, they’ve got a broader selection ranging from stickers, coffee mugs, posters, mini cards, keychains… you name it!

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Above & Below: Mini notebooks and cards with the face of your favorite star .
park yoochun calendar, kim hyun joong calendar, where to buy korean drama calendars, favorite korean drama stars Calendars  

2.  Socks

Korea has the leverage on fun socks if you ask me. Maybe it has to do with the Korean custom of removing your shoes in exchange for house slippers and not wanting to expose your bare feet…

But it doesn’t matter what age you are, you’ll be tempted to buy them because they’re just fun and plain adorable! Some are like couple outfits but for your feet; others are cute enough to make you wish you were a kid again. And then there are socks for those who want to have their favorite celebs pandering at their feet.

cute korean socks, oppa socks in korea, gangnam style socks and clothes

Can you guess which Oppa this is supposed to be? 

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Above & Below:  Matching pairs form a picturecute korean socks, oppa socks in korea, where to buy korea souvenirs, where to buy korean socks

 

3.  Electronics

Korea is cutting edge when it comes to electronic accessories; as such, they’ve gotten proficient at squeezing them down to sizes ranging from micro-mini and cute. In Seoul, the places to go which are often said to hold bargains are Yong-san Electronics Mall and Techno Mart.

But if you’re from the U.S., I can’t promise you you’ll find savings which will beat the online prices of Amazon, even if you’re buying Korean products like Samsung. Korea is known for it’s technology but just because they manufacture it, it doesn’t mean it’ll be cheaper there. For some reason, in Korea, that’s not the rule of thumb. I’d save the big equipment for when you get home and shop for the smaller items.

technology in korea, miniature technology in korea, korea technology, usb in korea

 

4. Get the cute cultural souvenirs but don’t forget the silverware!

Keychains displaying traditional Korean clothing are obvious, but there are subtler things, which carry equal importance for Koreans and happen to make for practical gift giving! Metal chopsticks are ubiquitous to Korea (get wooden or bamboo ones and you’re actually spelling a different country!) and long-stemmed metal spoons with round scoops are also strictly Korean (the next size down will be the size of baby spoons used for yogurt).

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Above: Cute keychain bears dressed in traditional Korean clothingkorean culture, korean metal chopsticks, cute korean souvenirs, where to buy korean souvenirs Above: Metal chopsticks & long-stemmed spoons.

 

5. Korean beauty products and Korean makeup

Koreans believe in looking good, when they step out of the house. As such, you’ll find a wealth of skin care shops, all endorsing a famous face to sell their product.  Missha, The Faceshop, Nature Republic, Skin Food, Hanskin, etc… But another reason to buy skin care products and Korean BB cream (read here)  is that Korean skin care is generating global interest, for using high-quality natural ingredients and its showing good results. Compared to brand name wrinkle creams and moisturizers in the U.S., they’re also significantly cheaper!

Best all-purpose and super simple self-pampering souvenirs  (under $5) are Korean face masks, nail polish and hand cream. They’re popular in Korea and regularly used as a beauty regimen or maintenance.

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 mask (watch my video on how it worked for me)?

Sometimes, it helps to just sift through Daiso and 1,000 won stores.

jyj ad, tony moly, skin care in korea, beauty in korea, skin care shops in korea, skin care ads in korea with famous drama kpop stars

Korean beauty products: JYJ (and my favorite on the far right, Park Yoochun of Rooftop Prince) as posterboys for Tony Moly. Formerly Kim Hyun Jun was the posterboy for this.  

Watch my Top 5 Tip Videos about Traveling in Korea

 


Watch: Top 5 Travel Tips for Navigating Korean Culture

 Related Posts:

9 Cool things to do in Seoul

Finding Seoul: Namsan Tower and the Locks of Love
Visiting the Coffee Prince Cafe
How to make your own Korean drama film tour
Top 8 Things to Do in Jeju Island


31 Comments

  1. Dei Manatad says:

    Yoo Chuuuuun! <3

  2. Je says:

    stumbled to ur page as i was looking for great souvenirs to request from my friends in Korea..nice suggestions by the way, espc the electronics I didn’t thought of it. i think I’d ask one more to my list..thanks!

    • Christine Kaaloa says:

      Hi Je~ Thanks for dropping by! Electronics is good; it’s probably not as cheap as it would be in the U.S. or ordered on Amazon. Korea has it’s bargainable places though. ;

  3. paul says:

    hey everyone! we always goto seoulsocks located in gangnam, seoul. Awesome place with great sock selection. enjoy korea!

    • Christine Kaaloa says:

      There are many sock vendors in Korea, you can find them at underground malls, at kiosks, etc… too.

  4. jaxkung says:

    rreally really nice post i will go to seoul next months probably socks i would buy ^_^ looks so cute

  5. jaxkung says:

    awesome post here i went to korea many times but didnt know what to buy. Socks are so cute will be my thing next time ^_^

    • Christine Kaaloa says:

      @Jaxkung: Enjoy Korea! Grab many socks. One of my favorite is a bear with a jjimjilbang (korean sauna) headress that looks like Star Wars Princess Leia.

  6. My boyfriend came back from Korea with a pair of K-Pop-I-love-you socks. I thought they were hilarious!

  7. Amara says:

    I stumbled on your website researching Korean spa/bathhouses before I try one out. Love the blog. And ironically, we received socks from our neighbors when they visited family in Korea last summer. So spot on!

    • Christine Kaaloa says:

      @Amara: Well, now you can return the socks (or more) souvenirs to your neighbors! 😉 Have fun at the bathhouse! It can feel uncomfortable if you’ve never been before, but it’s definitely a part of the culture and an inexpensive way to pamper yourself a bit.

  8. Socks are a great one! I loved the socks over there. I think beauty products would be #1 for me though. Korea knows it’s beauty items!

  9. Cute list of Top 5 things to bring back from Korea by @grrrltraveler … http://t.co/MbzoiQwRU4 #korea #travel

  10. Simon says:

    Haha there are some pretty insane gifts you can take home!
    Maybe soju? That stuff costs the same as vodka outside of Korea it seems! Not that I want to drink it when I leave…
    I think this is pretty spot on!!

  11. Jen says:

    I’ve always love getting those cute keychains from Asia. I don’t know why, but it’s so kawaii!

  12. You nailed it! One of my favorite things to include in each care package I sent – and I sent a lot thanks to the cheapness of Korea Post – were cutie socks, the likes of which I’d never seen back home. Before I left, I stocked up on sockies and makeup from Etude House and Faceshop. I dread the day when my socks get too holey and my fave eyeliner runs dry… guess it’ll be back to Korea then!

    • @Our Dear Lady Expatriate: haha… I love Korea Post! I’ve a short upcoming article about them cuz they just make things sooo easy (aka super cheap!) Betcha you’re glad the Faceshop is expanding their locations!

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