Alien's Day Out

Gift-Giving in Korea


Koreans are all about boxed gift sets during the major holidays. Supermarkets display all sorts of different options, ranging from toothpaste or cooking oil sets, to the notorious artery-clogging SPAM gift sets.

(photo taken from here)
Yes, apparently, spam meat can be elegantly packaged into desirable presents. Classy. That’s like giving someone you care about, the gift of heart-disease! Thankfully, I don’t know anyone who has given or received the gift of spam.

I personally think packages of fruit is one of the best gifts to give or receive. Foreigners might find the idea of presenting your host with a box of fresh produce weird (sort of like doing someone else’s grocery shopping), but it’s really common here. There’s something so life-affirming about this Korean custom, and I hope it never dies.

Another common holiday gift choice is a box of traditional Korean treats. This year, one family we know kindly gave us a box of various snacks. My favorite was the black bean ‘bar.’ Very nutty and crunchy!

So what kinds of lunar new year gifts did you give or receive?


  1. Wowza, please tell me those price tags are wrong? 12 apples for $29 (or is my currency converter deceiving me?)..?

    Btw, I love your blog! I want to visit South Korea in the summer, so i enjoy reading about little customs like this and it's reassuring to know that it's not impossible to find vegan food there. :)

  2. Hi Julia,
    That conversion sounds about right… I think they might be 'special,' high quality apples and pears. hehe. Korean pears can be pretty expensive in general, since they're so large. Not to mention, juicy and delicious!

    Oh, and thanks for liking the blog~ :P

  3. None! (in answer to your question). Unfortunately, I didn't celebrate the lunar new year. I love the Korean love of luxury food gifts, such as those ultra-expensive pears and the special seaweed that also costs a bundle per bundle. :) (Not to mention the Korean "rib sets" ~shudder~.) I can imagine how Korean pears could cost so much. That's seven for, what, about $60? I've seen some pretty good Korean pears in Trader Joe's (US supermarket chain) priced 2 for 5 dollars, and if these in the picture are about 10 times more delicious, hand-picked and -packed, and wrapped beautifully with their little beauty-queen sashes, heck, why not charge $8.50 each. As you point out, Mipa, they're probably enormous. :D Probably 3-4 servings per pear. Yum.

  4. Oh, also, is that grapeseed oil packaged with the Spam? LOL. It's probably Spam, Inc.'s, attempt to throw something into the package that will counteract the artery-clogging properties of Spam. :)

  5. Lu,
    "Rib sets"?! Oh myy, I'm glad I haven't seen any of those. Maybe it's because I always steer clear of the meat isles… :P And yes, that is grapeseed oil~ You know, incase the spam isn't oily enough….

  6. Oh, yes, the rib sets. I've seen them in Korean dramas. (I should probably duck now, right?) For kalbi. They come in these big Styrofoam briefcase-like boxes and cost about $100, from what I've gathered.

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *.