Korea’s Top 5 Souvenirs
#1 Creative Ceramics
CNNGo recently wrote about how a tiny ceramic bluespotted mudhopper won first prize as the “souvenir of the year” in an official souvenir contest held by the Korea Tourism Organization for artists and craftsmen.
The ceramic piece also functions as a musical pipe, with the fish’s “gills” act as spots for the fingers to play different notes.
Photo Credit: CNNGo
Other ceramics and art pieces, such as tea sets or small vases, also make beautiful, classy souvenirs. You can find a diverse selection in Insadong. In addition to home ware, this area showcases many other ceramics for sale, including cute ceramic jewelry.
Ceramic pieces and artware in Insadong
Photo Credit: Sleepwalkingintokyo
Photo Credit: Bee-Inspired
This fun new souvenir inspired us to come up with a short list of what we think are some great souvenirs from Korea. With the bluespotted mudhopper in first place this year, we’ll give you four more to make up the top five. Best of all, the items on the list are inexpensive. Most range between KRW 5,000W and KRW 20,000.
#2 Quirky Phone Accessories
If you look at my profile at the bottom of this post, you’ll see that I own a bread-scented smartphone case. That’s right, it looks AND smells like bread.
Korea has some unique cell phone accessories that are some of the quirkiest I’ve ever seen. For example, these might look like your everyday stickers, but they actually claim to function as filters against electromagnetic waves. These may be an attractive gift for your friends and family members who spend most of their time with phones permanently attached to their ears.
Photo Credit: lullabyfor.blog.me
Another current phone trend in Korea is accessories for the headphone port. Though this may be popular in other countries as well, there seems to be a wider array here.
Speaking of earphones, I’m also a big fan of the headphone winders. My purse is like a black hole – things go missing and it’s just a dark mess. These winders make it much easier to keep the cord from getting all tangled or worse, broken.
Photo Credit: Phing
These types of accessories are sold in most bookstores and stationary shops for only a few bucks, and the smartphone cases are usually priced from KRW 10,000 to KRW 40,0000. Tip: they make great stocking stuffers. (The winter holidays are coming up soon!)
#3 Fun Socks
Another great stocking stuffer is an item that most people take for granted. The socks in Korea do more than keep your piggies warm – they make a statement.
Crazy about K-pop? Express it on your feet. Love Korea? Create the Korean flag by putting your left and right foot together.
These can also be found at many stationary stores (go figure), at street vendors in big shopping areas and even in subway stations.
Photo Credit: Memories of Korea
#4 Customized Stamps
In Korea, most adults have a “dojiang.” It’s a seal or stamp usually made up of Chinese characters (since many Korean names include Chinese characters) and is used to prove identity on important documents or contracts. They are often more accepted than a written signature. Dojiangs are made from wood, jade, or sometimes ivory or other precious materials.
You can get a personal, handmade dojiang in areas like Insadong with your name and a symbol or word. The price varies depending on the material of the doijang and how intricate the carved designs are.
#5 Tasty Snacks
With souvenirs, it’s hard to go wrong with food. Convenience stores in Korea are open until very late (for those of you who completely forgot to get Mom or Dad a gift, perhaps this can be your last-minute solution).
Interestingly enough, I have learned recently that “gim,” or roasted seaweed is becoming a popular healthy snack of choice. In Korea, gim is mostly paired with rice or sometimes as a beer food, and it’s not often eaten just by itself. However, friends of mine in the States have taken packs of gim along in their backpacks or purses as a quick snack.
The gim in Korea is different from Japan, where it is also popular, in that it is coated with sesame oil, canola oil and sea salt.
For those with a sweet tooth or more inclined towards the crispy, the snacks in Korea have plenty to offer. Interestingly, many of the chip choices are seafood-flavored. One of my favorites is one that tastes like squid and has a nice, crunchy peanut in the center. Beyond just the taste, Korean snacks usually come in bright, colorful packaging.
Photo Credit: SouthKoreanFood
The snacks in Korea could warrant a completely separate post of their own!
Are there any souvenirs off this list you would particularly wish to give or receive? Let us know in the comments!