Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Chuseok Gift Suggestions

I took as many pictures in the grocery store as I could, until I was kindly asked to not take anymore pictures.  I hate to be that rude customer.  With Chuseok gift shopping in full swing stores everywhere were set up with gift sets galore.  Here’s just a few…


This is the ginormous sign on HomePlus. Our Wal-Mart/ Target/Everything-You-Could-Ever-Want-Under-One-Roof store


We actually did our shopping at Lotte, which is a large posh department store. Floridians – think Millenia.  These pictures were taken in the grocery store located on the basement level.


Tuna.  Everybody eats tuna.  Non-Korea teachers, when you see a price just make the comma a decimal.  That’s mostly correct.  This gift of tuna for 28,500 Korean won ~ about $28.50. Outstanding.


Larger quantity/selection of tuna ~ $47.50


The SPAM/tuna combo.  10+1?  Buy ten, get one free!


That’s a lot of SPAM…  It’s a big deal here.


I’m not completely sure what this is, but it was in the alcohol section. Some sort of jug/drinking glass combination.


And wine.  Wine is always a good gift.


Also traditional tea sets.  Korean tea sets are quite different than the delicate Chinese tea sets people search for. I haven’t decided if I like these yet.


We also have a gift set comprised of all the oils a well stocked kitchen needs. 


And some really beautiful treats that I feel confident look far better than they taste.  I’ve had a few of these and I don’t enjoy them.




More ginger.  I think.


Beautifully packaged fruit.


Kim, otherwise known as dried seaweed.  Everybody in Korea needs that.  I even have some in my cabinets.


A variety pack of sardines.  barf.


Beef Jerky


The largest shrimp I have ever seen.  Yummmmmmm.


The men from the meat department staring at the crazy foreigners taking pictures in the grocery store.


And gifts of meat.

Moving on the personal care section…


Gifts of shampoo, soap, and toothpaste.


Throw in the body wash for those that are extra special in your life.


Or for those a little more spend thrifty, small sets of shampoo and similar products.

Presuming you are still reading this blog and didn’t get bored around the tuna/SPAM combo, I have a few thoughts on this style of gift giving.  Most importantly, I love it.

The most un-American thing I’ve learned about Korea is that they aren’t crap collectors.  It’s actually difficult to find stores selling traditional Korean anything.  They give someone a gift they will use.  While I’ve only been to a few Korean homes in my eleven months here (ELEVEN MONTHS HERE?!?!?!), the homes haven’t been filled with dust collecting junk.  They don’t buy each other gifts that “look so pretty on the shelf”.  As you can tell from these gift sets, the priority in gift giving seems to be put on the usefulness of the gift.  I assume this is primarily due to the fact that they simply don’t have the space.  In an apartment equal size to mine, a full-size family will usually live. The actual land mass of this country is so small they don’t have the luxury of spreading out their arms like we do.  They live in tighter quarters and they make it work.

Lotte is a huge twelve story department store.  We didn’t go on each floor, but we shopped through a few.  The grocery store section was the only department where you would have even known there was a holiday the following day.  I think American’s could learn an awful lot from Korea in this regard. We spend so much money on stuff that people may not need or even want.  On the subway, in the elevator, and walking down the street the last few days I’ve seen dozens of people carrying these gifts sets.  The most popular sets, purely based on unscientific personal observation, seem to be the SPAM and the Sesame oil.  A friend of mine received an expensive set of ginger candy from her hagwon.  That goes on record of being the most frivolous gift I’ve heard of. Again, I think this concept is spectacular.

I’ve actually annoyed people in the past because when they ask me what I want as a gift, I always reply with a practical answer.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE completely ridiculous gifts (ie Britney Spears concert tickets or jewelry that I never thought of asking for) but if you ask me what I want, you are going to get some sort of practical answer.  It can be annoying. But wouldn’t you want to get someone something you know they need?

I would. 


  1. Bored at the tuna/Spam combo? That's when I got more interested!

    And aren't concert tickets and jewelry something that will get used - not stuff that sits on a shelf, so I think that still works.

  2. hey are you still in Daejeon? I move there this week and would love to make some new friends!

    my names Josh and im from the UK, Im 24 going on 19 and love travelling comment here somehow on how i can contact you and meet more foreigners in Daejeon!


  3. You are talking about Lotte Department Store. Whereas there is a Lotte Supermarket like Homeplus which are the same...not so posh.