Interesting gifts to bring home from Korea?
December 31, 2009 6:14 AM   Subscribe

What unique gifts should I keep an eye out for when traveling to Seoul?

I'm headed to Seoul next week and having never been to Korea, I'm curious as to what would be some unique gift-y type things that I should keep an eye out for (for my wife, my 3-year-old daughter, and for various nieces/nephews aged 4-6 years).

Does anyone have any suggestions for things that are uniquely Korean that can't be easily obtained in the US?

On a similar note, any unique alcoholic beverages that are worth brining back for the bar at home?
posted by scblackman to Travel & Transportation around Seoul, South Korea (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Easy question first, de facto alcoholic beverage is Soju. So many many brands to choose from. I'm quite partial to Bek sea ju, as it's smoother than most. All of them will burn and ignite in your stomach. While you are there, try the Makguli a 6~8% milky rice based drink. Doesn't travel well, so will be difficult to take back.

As for gifts for the family, are they useful products or souvenir types to hand out en masse? You can of course go to tourist areas (Insadong) where tourist trap shops sell tons of colourful tchotchke that may delight your nieces/nephews (keyrings, bookmarks, fans, ear picks, stickers, paper)

For your daughter, I would suggest finding an Artbox or similar shop, a cutopia heaven (or hell). There is a huge one at the Kybo Bookstore, either in Kangnam or Gwanghwamun.

For your wife, something I always mean to get but forget, a Hyojason. Bamboo self-backscratcher.

Sorry links are mostly to wikipedia and google image search pages, but otherwise they would link to korean sites, and they are not very friendly.

Have fun in Korea!
posted by slyrabbit at 6:54 AM on December 31, 2009 [1 favorite]

Some cool stuff shown here. When I lived there the traditional embroidered scenes were a big hit with friends in the states, also "eel skin" purses and wallets, and jewelry boxes with inlaid mother of pearl. And you absolutely should bring some SoJu back. I prefer Jinro myself. Amazing country, some of the nicest people, and for my taste it is a foodies paradise. Try all the local foods you can! Have fun!
posted by white_devil at 7:58 AM on December 31, 2009

Baekseju isn't soju. They're different things. But, yes, it's better.

Insadong has some decent stuff, but you've got to search for it.

If I were you, I'd go to Dongdaemun. Find the Doota department store there, go up a few floors, and get some Jeju Island chocolate. It's hard to find outside of Jeju Island, but you can buy it there, and it's really good. Your wife will be like it.
posted by smorange at 8:16 AM on December 31, 2009

Best answer: You can get a chop (personal stamp) made in the aforementioned Insadong, though you could probably get it much cheaper elsewhere. Decide if you want it with Chinese characters (traditional) or Korean (unusual but meaningful as a memento or gift).
posted by war wrath of wraith at 8:24 AM on December 31, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: this isn't exactly a souvenir-type thing, but when I visited the seoul tower I fell in love with the stationary/gifty items made by the company millimeter/milligram. check them out here:
posted by ialwayscryatendings at 9:01 AM on December 31, 2009 [1 favorite]

It's gross, but you can also find soju in juicebox form, which is so much trashier than boxed wine. here's a picture i found on flickr-- as a bonus, juiceboxes are a lot easier to transport than the traditional glass bottles. For the kids, Korea has a really amazing variety of pencil cases. Stock up, they're great little presents year-round. There's a lot of other stationery with a very cute Asian aesthetic.
posted by acidic at 10:03 AM on December 31, 2009

Bokbunja is a pretty tasty sweet Korean spirit. Everyone likes it, especially in winter.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 2:55 AM on January 1, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice. I brought home some soju, some bokbunja, a chop for my little girl (here is a picture of the man carving it), some beautiful calligraphy art (here's a picture of the guy who made it), and some other fun things from Insa-dong. I also found the mm/mg store and got some stuff for the missus.

I drank the makguli (yum), and ate a ton. It was a great trip.

Thanks, MetaFilter, for the great tips!
posted by scblackman at 8:16 PM on January 19, 2010

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