Life in Korea: Buying presents for people back home

Unless you have plans to return to your home country for the holiday season (happy ChristmaHanukKwanzikuh to you, by the way), buying - and shipping - presents is the likely way to get your gifts home in time for the holidays.

While you know your parents and friends better than I do, here are some suggestions for making their Christmas a Korean one - and yours an easier one. Before purchasing, shop around. The same thing will cost 20% less (or more) at other places around town.

While Dongdaemun and Namdaemun are fairly well-known as tourist traps, they're decent place to pick up something for everyone. Even Itaewon can be a decent place to pick something up if you're priced them elsewhere. Things with hangeul will seem silly to us, but your parents might enjoy explaining it as a secret code.

Many things of a Buddhist nature are well-priced (meaning not expensive), and are easily obtained at a temple. Look for a set of prayer beads or an English book if they're interested in the religion, or some incense if they're not. Bongeunsa (across from the COEX mall) and Jogyesa in downtown Seoul have two of the best gift shops.

A book about Korean culture or history often makes a decent gift. Even a blogger like myself has paid money to get a better handle on Korean history during my time here. While there are many worth reading, check out the selections at almost any Kyobo or Bandi and Luni's bookstore. The biggest B&L is is in COEX mall, though the Kyobo bookstore in downtown Seoul is quite nice as well.

Pictures of yourself - especially if thoughtfully taken, printed, and sent - are usually welcomed by parents that haven't seen you in awhile.

Food, candy, or other Korean edibles - take care that it's not too strange.

A few things to avoid purchasing:

- unless they've been to this side of the Pacific or are as adventurous as you, they probably won't get it. Add kimchi to that list too - if they insist on trying some, tell them to find the nearest Korean restaurant where they live.

Breakable, fragile, or heavy stuff. The same reasons you wouldn't mail ceramic or glass dishes across your home country also apply here.

PIrated DVD's - Customs has this weird habit of opening and inspecting packages. Enclose it in less obvious packaging if season 3 of 'Prison Break' is the only thing your cousin wants.

In the meantime, hit 'repeat' on that classic version of "I'll be Home for Christmas" you know you have on your MP3 player. Merry Christmas.

Readers: What are you sending home? Comments are open.

Creative Commons License © Chris Backe - 2009



I bought some concentrate red

I bought some concentrate red ginseng for my mother, it's quite pricey but they say it's very good for health. Every morning you just put a tiny scoop into some hot water and drink it as tea, but red ginseng is also sold in many other forms, candies, natetc.

For my sis, I bought some mask packs, which are really nice and extremely cheap. On Gmarket I bought 50 mask packs for only 11,000won, which is an awesome deal. Of course sending this package through mail can be quite pricey so maybe it's not the best idea unless you go back yourself to your home country.

Otherwise they always have some nice typical Korean little things, like bookmarks, korean calligraphy paintings, little "luck" pendants (or health, etc), or cellphone pendant too.

hope this helps