No matter what takes you to Korea and for how long, you will be intrigued by the gift-giving culture. Koreans are a special breed of people in the world who love and treasure gifts. They can give up anything to be happy through a series of festivals where gifts are offered. And every foreigner going to Korea must know this. Gifts carry a lot of cultural significance for them. The Korean culture of gifts and dictates passes from one generation to another to keep it alive.

If you plan to travel to Korea, always remember that gifts are valued, and there is a system for gifting. Just like in many other parts of the world, culture shock can be a big blow. However, this article guides you on what is allowed in Korea regarding gift-giving culture.

What You Must Know About Gift-Giving In Korea

Whether you are in Korea for a short stay or permanently, a quick lesson you must learn is about gift-giving. It is almost a sacred cultural affair observed in all corners of the country. This is what you should know about this culture.


Part of the gift culture in Korea is mainly on a reciprocal basis. It means that you have to reciprocate by giving a gift to someone who gives you a present.

Teachers Are Not Gifted

The law of the land bars Korean teachers from receiving gifts from a parent or student. It doesn’t matter if it is a kindergarten teacher or a lecturer in the university. This was passed in the Kim Young Ran Act, which has been in effect for years now.

Nevertheless, parents have in the past years found a way to bypass this law. They share gifts that all teachers can share amongst them. Gifts such as a tea box have are shared among teachers.

Due to the dicey nature of the law, the education department in Korea allowed parents to only gift teachers with presents not exceeding W30,000. Further, you have to give the gift in public. The logic behind this law is to discourage bribery and unfairness.

Workmates And Bosses Are Gifted

Every year ESL teachers enjoy teaching in public schools and private schools, and they share common gifts such as tea. They also share fruits as a gift.

What Gifts Do Koreans Give?

Gift-giving in Korea is based on your relationship with the person you intend to gift. You should know a few things about them such as their preferences and likes to settle on a good gift. Before this, you should be aware that giftunicorn is helpful to foreigners wondering what gift to offer. It has a list of gifts that you can provide while in Korea. That said, you should take note that there are several ‘universal’ gifts that you can settle on. They include:

Alcoholic Drinks

A bottle of wine or whisky is an excellent gift, but it depends on who you are giving it to. A hack into this one is first finding out if or not your recipient takes alcohol or not. Secondly, find which drink they prefer. Everyone has a preference. The bottom line is Koreans love their bottles too much.


Giving money as a gift in Korea is the most common gift as much as it seems and feels impractical. Money is gifted in social events such as weddings, birthdays, and holidays and to children. But there is more to the concept of giving cash as a gift because a set of factors binds it.

Before giving Korean money as a gift, find out how close you are; are they family, relative, or acquaintance? And the amount you should give is also another factor to consider. Korean gift-giving culture caps the minimum amount you can give as a gift at W30,000. The closer you are to the recipient of your gift, the more money you give – W100,000. However, if you don’t have a lot of money, you can provide the minimum set amount. Remember, you get the same amount as a token of appreciation from the person you gift. So, gauge their stability and decided on how much you will offer.

Health Supplements

Koreans value their wealth a lot. Therefore, a health supplement product augurs well as a gift. For instance, a box of green tea is a good option. Likewise, they love food, and a box of hanwoo beef and juice are good choices. A package of instant coffee is also welcome.

When Do Koreans Give Gifts?

  • Weddings: In most cases, money is given as a gift by friends and relatives
  • Housewarming: A new house is a reason to celebrate. A bottle of wine, whisky, or gin is given. Alcohol crowns a party.
  • A Kid’s First Birthday: A huge celebration is held when a child turns a year old. Money is an ordinary gift with a few toys and clothes as a gift.
  • Birthday For An Elder: Elders between the ages of 60-80 are celebrated and gifted like kings. For Korea, attaining this age is a huge milestone.
  • New Enterprise: The proprietor of a new enterprise is given plants in a pot as a gift.
  • Holidays: Flowers, chocolate, and clothes are common gifts you give to loved ones over Christmas or Valentine’s. Others are Teacher’s Day, Children’s Day, and Parent’s Day.

What App Is Used To Send Gifts In Korea?

KakaoTalk app is commonly used in sending gifts across Korea. It is part of the fantastic gift-giving culture. Most of the population in Korea used the messenger app to send gifts to different places. Even senior citizens have this app on their phones. Although other apps are used to send gifts, the KakaoTalk app is the most preferred due to its widespread use.

Without a doubt, Korea has an intriguing gift-giving culture. It is different from what happens in the west, where gifts are treasured so much. But Korea’s gift culture can be a shocker to a foreigner in the country. They may not understand where to start in gifting and who to gift. Still and all, you now know where to start and be part of the culture.

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