Giving gifts in Korea is a sign of respect, shows that you are courteous, and helps maintain a comfortable mindset. Most Asian cultures value modesty and graciousness. That is true in Korea as well. Gifts can make a great impact and show gratitude. It is a good way to thank someone for showing you kindness or hospitality. There are some things you may want to know about giving gifts in Korea.
Korean Gift Giving Customs
- Candles and a box of matches, or laundry detergent, are customary for a housewarming gift.
- Gifts are given and received with both hands.
- Gifts are not opened in front of the person who gave them.
- If you receive a gift, it is customary to give a similar type of gift in the future.
Giving Gifts to Koreans
- Make sure that your gifts are wrapped nicely and look good. This part matters nearly as much as giving the gift and the type of gift it is.
- Gifts that come from your own country or town make good gifts and add a nice touch to the gesture.
- It is important to remember that the main purpose for giving gifts is to give thanks and show respect.
Business Gift Giving Customs & Etiquette in Korea
- It is common to give gifts in business settings in order to gain favors or build relationships with others, and then to reciprocate.
- For a first meeting, your gift should be something with your company’s logo on it or something that demonstrates your home country. These gifts should be of good quality, but not expensive.
- Give gifts that have a higher value to the senior person. The gifts to those in lower positions should be of a lesser value, even if they are similar to the one you gave to the senior person.
Gift Giving Occasions in Korea
- Valentine’s Day
- New Year’s Day
Gift Giving Tips in Korea
- Wrap gifts in green or yellow striped gift wrapping paper as that is the tradition there.
- Food makes a great gift when in doubt, such as cookies, cupcakes, and fine chocolates, as well as wine.
- Cash is a good gift for newlyweds who are getting married and for New Year’s Day.
- Alcoholic beverages or cigarettes can be given to those who drink or smoke.
- Monetary gifts should be given in a white envelope.
- The number 7 is viewed as lucky, therefore giving 7 of something is lucky.
Gift Giving Don’ts in Korea
- Avoid red and dark-colored wrapping paper, as it is seen as unpleasant.
- Don’t give sharp objects, as it will mean that you are ending your friendship or relationship.
- The number 4 is viewed as unlucky.
- Don’t send notes of thanks after receiving hospitality, the gift was your thanks.