Souvenir Guide: 10 Traditional and Unique Gifts to Buy in Korea

30 Aug

Whether you’ve lived in Korea for five years or you’re visiting for five days, shopping for souvenirs in Daegu can be a challenge. Unlike Seoul, where entire streets like Insadong are lined with shops selling traditional handicrafts, Daegu’s souvenir shops are far less conspicuous.

If you’re heading home soon or looking for a little piece of Korea to send home in a care package, spare yourself from picking up an overpriced refrigerator magnet or key chain from the airport. Here are 10 traditional and unique gifts to remember your time in Korea.

1. Food

Some of the most memorable souvenirs can be found on the shelves of your local grocery store. Two of my favorite picks are gim and honey ginger tea. Gim is thin sheets of toasted seaweed brushed with sesame oil. It makes a tasty and healthy snack on its own or wrapped around rice. Koreans traditionally gift gim, olive oil, Spam and fresh fruits on Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) and Seolnal (Lunar New Year). A jar of honey ginger tea also makes a lovely gift. It’s easy to make (simply stir a spoonful into a mug of hot water). It’s also a popular remedy for warding off colds.

For the more adventurous eaters in your life, pick up a can of beondegi (silkworm pupae) or dried squid, which is also sold at the movie theater concession stand alongside popcorn, hot dogs and nachos!

Where to shop: Gim, honey ginger tea, beondegi and dried squid can all be found at your local convenience store. Looking for something a little more fancy? Check out E-mart, Homeplus or Hyundai Department Store (B1).

2. Cosmetics


Jeju volcanic pore clay mask at Innisfree (13,000 KRW)

Korean beauty products are among the most demanded items by international tourists, and the biggest beauty brands are all available in Daegu including Innisfree, The Face Shop and Skin Food. High quality, often local, ingredients include green tea, Jeju Island volcanic clay, honey and ginseng. Innisfree actually has a great line for men. I got my Dad some of their green tea moisturizer for Christmas last year, and he loved it.

Where to shop: Cosmetic shops are EVERYWHERE! The biggest concentration can be found downtown between H&M and the stage.

3. Paper fans


Folding fans at Hot Tracks

These beautiful paper fans not only keep you cool in the summer; they can also brighten up the walls of your home.

Where to shop: Paper fans range from cheap reproductions to expensive works of art. You can find them at Hot Tracks, Art Box and Dada Stationery Store.

4. Korean Kitchenware

Souvenirs should tell a story, so why not pick something that Koreans use in their everyday lives? Korean chopsticks are uniquely flat and rectangular and made of metal. Traditionally, they were made of brass or silver. Another kitchenware pick is somaek (soju + beer) glasses. Found at any respectable Korean barbecue establishment, these glasses have lines for measuring just the right amount of soju and beer.

Where to shop: Daiso

5. Booze


Soju and maekkoli at Hyundai Department Store (B1)

When I visited the States earlier this year, I brought home 10 bottles of soju and one bottle of Korean plum wine. They made awesome gifts for my family and friends. And at about $1 a bottle, they don’t break the bank. The only downside is that they’re super heavy, and you must pack them carefully.

Where to shop: Convenience stores, E-mart, Homeplus, etc. Soju starts at about 1,000 KRW a bottle. Korean plum wine comes in pretty bottles and starts around 3,500 KRW.

6. Fun Socks


Printed with funny sayings and famous characters, these socks are definitely a conversation starter and, at only $1 a pair, they make an affordable souvenir.

Where to shop: Various stalls downtown, Banwoldang Underground Mall, Jungangno Underground Mall, Daiso

7. Andong Masks

Andong masks at Hot Tracks (49,000 KRW)

Andong masks at Hot Tracks (49,000 KRW)

Catching a weekend performance of the Hahoe Folk Village mask play in Andong is a must-do while in Korea. These spirited masks can be found throughout Korea.

Where to shop: Hot Tracks, Dada Stationery Store and Daegu Yakryeongsi Souvenir Shop near Yangnyeongsi Oriental Medicine Cultural Center

8. Brass doorbell chimes


Brass doorbell chimes at Dada Stationery Store (starting at 13,000 KRW)

You can spot brass doorbell chimes like these at the entrance of homes and businesses in Korea. They are supposed to keep bad luck out.

Where to shop: Dada Stationery Store

9. Tea


Osulloc tea at Hyundai Department Store (B1) (15,000 KRW)

I recently sampled the most delicious cherry blossom tea at Hyundai Department Store (B1). Grown on Jeju Island, the brand is called Osulloc. The packaging is so pretty, and at 15 bucks a pop, I know what all the tea drinkers in my life are getting for Christmas this year!

Where to shop: Hyundai Department Store (B1)

10. Stationery

Cute and colorful notebooks, calendars and greeting cards make wonderful gifts with their eye-catching designs and affordable prices. I have fallen in love with this apathetic little egg named Gudetama!

Where to shop: Hot Tracks offers a dizzying selection of notebooks, pencil cases and stickers. Art Box also offers a great variety of cute stationery and gifts.


This post was so fun to write. I love to shop in Korea, so it was hard to narrow down my picks for best souvenirs to just 10. Seomun Market in Daegu is also a great place to explore in search of traditional and unique gifts. I hope this list inspires you to think outside the gift shop when shopping for souvenirs in Korea.

Thanks for reading! I hope it gave you some ideas for what to get your family and friends. Is there anything you would add to this list?

All photos ©2015 Bridgett Hernandez


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