Want to gift your friends or close ones some Korean-inspired gifts this Christmas? KoniKorean has compiled a list of South Korea-inspired gift ideas for Christmas 2019 based on current trends in Korea and popular Korean items overseas.
For Technology Enthusiasts: Image and Sound
With many domestic technology brands like Samsung and LG, South Korea is home to many innovative products. The items below have been especially popular in the country over the past year.
This LG projector and similar projectors have been very popular for the past few years in South Korea. This LG projector is tiny and can fit easily in a backpack, comes with a travel cover, can connect to a smartphone wirelessly, and has a 2.5-hour battery to watch movies while traveling or quickly show PowerPoint presentations during business meetings. The main drawback with projectors this size is that they do not have very powerful lamps and can therefore only be used in very dark rooms or very close to the wall (thus reducing the image size).
Join useful with cute by offering an AirPods protective case cover with a Kakao character! These covers, available with different characters, are made of silicone and will protect your AirPods case with style. $15-$20 on Amazon.
Kakao Friends is one of the most recognized consumer brands in South Korea, and has a lot of merchandise ranging from notebooks to travel accessories. The company has started to sell some of their merchandise on Amazon for international customers (link to their official Amazon page).
For Foodies: Korean Cooking Starter
If your friends or family members enjoy cooking, get them with the new Maangchi cookbook along with some of the necessary ingredients to get started!
Maangchi has been around for many years with her YouTube channel and several cookbooks. This cookbook, released in October 2019, is the ultimate collection of Korean recipes written in English. The book features many beautiful pictures for each recipe and a useful Korean grocery guide in the first pages to help navigate Korean grocery stores. A must for any food lover!
Some ingredients to get started:
For Cinephiles: Digital Movies
Korean film industry has been very prolific this year, with one movie (Parasite) being critically acclaimed at the Cannes Film Festival, and many other movies reaching impressive ticket sales in South Korea. While it is hard to watch these movies in the theaters or even buy DVDs/Blu-Rays outside of South Korea, they are nonetheless available on major streaming platforms for rental or purchase. The movies below were among the top-5 ticket sales in South Korea in 2019. Gift a digital code for these movies to your family or friends!
An amazing action/comedy movie: a jobless climber needs to rescue his family from a city-wide gas disaster. In the process, he reunites with his old crush that he met back when he was a member of his college's climbing club.
Exit is a very well-paced movie that provokes laughter, tears, and heart-wrenching moments and will be enjoyed by all ages. Exit was one of the highest-grossing movies in 2019 in South Korea.
Another comedy/action movie: Narcotics detectives go undercover and start a chicken restaurant to take down a gang. To the surprise of the detectives, the restaurant becomes widely popular, complicating their mission.
Despite a substantially lower budget than Exit, Extreme Job topped the 2019 South Korean box office thanks to the numerous laughs it gave the audience.
An arthouse drama/suspense movie: A depiction of the class warfare in modern South Korea through the improbable story of a poor family from Jongno (종로구), Seoul infiltrating an affluent family's residence. A movie that keeps the audience hooked until the very end.
Parasite was another 2019 box office topper in South Korea but was also critically acclaimed by experts, and became the first South Korean movie to receive the prestigious Palme d'Or at the Festival de Cannes (Cannes Film Festival). A must-see for anybody interested in Korean culture and cinema.
For Music Lovers: Hits of 2019
The most popular albums in South Korea, being all K-Pop, will undoubtely appeal to many international fans and (younger) Koreans. These CDs come with extensive booklets and often have a random photo card with a band member in them. Note that, if you plan to gift one of these CDs to a Korean teenage guy, pick a girl band rather than a boy band. Young Korean guys either abhor Korean boy bands or listen to them secretly, if the latter you have to make sure they would like such gift!
The albums below are all among the top 10 most sold albums for 2019 (see the Gaon chart).
For Sephora Addicts: Skin Care
Face masks and nose pore strips (코팩) have been widely popular for decades in South Korea, and some Korean-inspired products have been making their way to beauty stores such as Sephora. For a great gift, make sure you purchase an actual Korean brand rather than an American company surfing on the K-beauty trend!
Nature Republic face mask sheets (10 cts) on Amazon ($7-$12). Nature Republic is a company with many storefronts in South Korea and Los Angeles, and a presence in some Korean stores in the US. These masks are very economical and smell great; packing a few with each Christmas gift is always appreciated!
Buy Nature Republic Mask Sheets (10 cts) ($7-$12) on Amazon
LANEIGE Water Pocket Sheet Mask Sleeping Mask (Replenishing) (1ct) on Sephora ($6). LANEIGE, a Korean brand from Amore Pacific, is specialized in semi-luxury cosmetics. Sephora sells some LANEIGE products, including this (expensive) facial mask with rave consumer reviews. Tip: if you are in Korea, many beauty stores usually run promotions with free masks if you spend more than a certain amount. Stock up then!
Buy LANEIGE Water Pocket Sheet Mask ($6) at Sephora
Nose pore strips, or 코팩 (nose pack) in Korean, are very good at unclogging nose pores and removing black heads. A little bit of water just needs to be applied on one's clean nose for the strip to adhere to the skin. After the strip hardens, it can just be pulled away at once for a clean result!
This PiggyMom Nose Pack is a popular option in Korea, and can be purchased on Amazon, but other alternatives are also available, especially if purchased in Korea. Among other options that can be purchased in the US, the next best equivalent is the Bioré pore strip, but this is a Japanese product.