souvenirs from Korea

Top 10 Best Souvenirs From Korea To Remember Your Trip By

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Korea is a must-visit destination for every world traveler. I’ve visited plenty of countries around the world, but I chose Korea as my home because the place is oozing with culture, interesting locals, and beautiful sights. 

If you’re planning a trip to Korea, I recommend you leave some space in your luggage because I guarantee you’re going to want to bring home some souvenirs. This East Asian country has a wide array of keepsakes that you will help you remember how memorable and special your trip was.

Join me as I share some of the best souvenirs from Korea!

Korean Gifts: Keepsakes From a Global Pop Culture Powerhouse

Having stayed in Korea since 2015, I’ve had a front-row seat to Korea’s ascent as a cultural phenomenon. Hallyu, the K-Wave, has swept across the globe in recent years. Whether it’s music, film, or TV, every medium has learned to celebrate Korean artists and culture. 

Consider the success of BTS, Parasite’s Oscar win, and Squid Game’s status as a streaming hit. I’m sure you have at least a few friends in your circle who are discovering an appreciation for all things Korean, which makes souvenirs from Korea the perfect gift to bring back after your travels.

From Ancestral Customs To K-Pop

It’s amazing how many cool souvenirs from Korea you can find while shopping in the many malls and traditional markets across the country. There’s something for everyone, from fans of handicrafts to K-Pop groupies who live and breathe for their idols. Whatever your tastes, you’ll be able to take home souvenirs from South Korea that remind you of your time in this beautiful country.

10 Souvenirs From Korea You Must Buy

People visiting Korea for the first time have asked me, “What are popular souvenirs from Korea I can take back home?” To them, I say, “Where do I start?!” 

With so much to choose from, here are 10 cool souvenirs from Korea that you should pick up while you’re here.

1. Korean Beauty Products

Do you want the famous “glass skin” of your favorite idols and K-Drama stars? Start by using the same cosmetic products they do. Skincare products are popular gifts and souvenirs from South Korea. Some of the most popular and renowned K-skincare brands include LANEIGE, AESTURA, Peach & Lily, Banila Co., Innisfree or Dr. Jart.

Another great option is to go and pamper yourself by booking a session at a Korean spa or salon and learn which products you should buy from the experts.

2. Traditional Korean Masks

When I first came to Korea, I was surprised at the number of masks in traditional markets. But that’s before I learned about the cultural significance of masks, or tal, in Korea. Used in the country’s famous folk dance form talchum (which I strongly recommend you watch while visiting), these wooden and leather masks can decorate your home and serve as a reminder of the show.

Check out these traditional markets where you can find traditional Korean arts and crafts like masks.

3. Handmade Ceramics

There is a thriving handicraft industry in South Korea. The country’s potters produce some of the most beautiful pieces you will see anywhere in the world. From porcelain and clay to earthenware and stoneware, I promise that you will be able to find works of art in Korea’s markets.

4. Traditional Dress

The Korean traditional garments, known as hanbok, are worn on special occasions like festivals and birthdays. Since the hanbok offers an easy mix of comfort and elegance, there’s no reason not to take one with you so you can wear it whenever the mood strikes!

Even if you don’t want to buy your own hanbok dress, you can still rent one and take stunning photos. There are tons of hanbok rental places near Gyeongbokgung Palace, for example!

5. Artisanal Korean Wooden Jewelry Boxes

An exquisite art form that is native to Korea, najeonchilgi is the practice of crafting beautiful lacquered woodwork that’s been inlaid with mother-of-pearl. I use them to store my jewels because my beautiful trinkets deserve a lovely container. And they don’t come any more breathtaking than the artisanal najeonchilgi wooden boxes.

6. Traditional Korean Tobacco Smoking Pipe

Korean tobacco pipes are nothing like Sherlock Holmes’ famous curved calabash. They are long and straight, sometimes to such an extent that the user cannot light them without assistance! These pipes are also exquisite works of art with carved stems and mouthpieces crafted from jade and agate.

7. Korean Hanbok Dolls/Teddies

Is your little one accompanying you on your Korean vacation? Why not get them a small reminder of their trip? Hanbok teddies and dolls are cute reminders of Korea’s centuries of culture.

wearing hanbok at Gyeongbokgung

8. Korean Food

There are few things in this world as delicious as Korean food. I’ve enjoyed Korea’s myriad flavors during my time here by going on food tours, and you should too! Who knows? You might find some new favorite dishes. 

If you want to take home something to delight your taste buds, you should pack some food souvenirs from Korea. Here are a few suggestions:

Jakseolcha 작설차

Jakseolcha was named after the Korean word for “sparrow’s tongue” because of its shape. It is a delicious and soothing green tea.

Kimchi 김치

This fermented dish is an iconic part of the local cuisine and a must-have souvenir from Korea.

Premium Soju 소주

A distinctive rice-derived alcoholic beverage invented in Korea, premium soju is a delight for any drinker.

Korean Rice Cakes (Tteokbokki) 떡볶이

Hot and spicy, these delicious stir-fried snacks are a local favorite that you just have to try.

9. Traditional Korean Silk Coin Purse

If you’re buying hanbok to take back home, I should warn you—the attire is super comfy but it has no pockets! The Koreans traditionally carry beautiful silk purses, called bokjumeoni, that serve as pockets and ornamental accessories. Complete your hanbok by getting a bokjumeoni for added authenticity.

10. Korean Spoon and Chopsticks Set

While in Korea, you’re going to get plenty of practice in eating with chopsticks. And once you’ve mastered the art, you’ll never want to eat Korean food any other way again. One way to keep reliving your trip to Korea is by getting a traditional spoon and chopsticks set, so you can eat like the Koreans do in your own home.

Fun fact about Korean chopsticks; Korean chopsticks are typically made of metal, often stainless steel. One unique aspect of Korean chopsticks is their flat and slender shape compared to chopsticks from other Asian cultures.

Bonus Section: 5 More Popular Korean Souvenirs for Your Home

If you’re interested in bringing home more souvenirs with you, here are a few more items I recommend: 

1. Korean Celadon Buddhist Incense Burner

What’s a holiday without a statement showpiece to bring back home? In Korea, some of the most stunning examples of celadon pottery can be found in the studios of traditional masters. Get yourself a Goryeo-style incense burner for contemplative moments.

2. Korean Paper (Hanji)

The art of paper-making has a long history in Korea that dates back to ancient times. Over the centuries, Koreans have perfected the craft and created hanji, one of the world’s most durable and high-quality paper. You can take home this unique Korean invention in the form of an art piece as many craftsmen use hanji as a medium for two- and three-dimensional artwork.

3. Korean Name Necklace

If you’re the type who enjoys wearing statement jewelry, you can buy yourself a nameplate necklace with Korean characters. There are shops that will customize a nameplate necklace for you in major cities like Seoul and Busan.

4. Traditional Korean Bamboo Flute

When you’re in Korea, make sure you catch a daegeum recital. This traditional wind instrument has one of the most unique sounds in folk music thanks to its ingenious design. The daegeum is made from double-grooved bamboo with a membrane harvested from reed grasses covering the opening. I love daegeum not just for the enchanting music but also because every daegeum is truly one-of-a-kind! 

Since they are made from naturally grown bamboo, every flute has a slightly different shape which gives it a unique sound. A daegeum is also featured in Korea’s myths and legends as a divine instrument of great power. What better instrument to take home with you?

5. Traditional Korean fan

While Korea has some brutally cold winters, it gets hot during summers! Luckily, the Koreans came up with a pretty solution in the form of buchae, the traditional Korean fan. These fans are practical and decorative. They are useful on a hot summer day and beautiful if you choose to decorate your home’s walls with them. You can choose from a range of styles of buchae, including taegeukseon, paldeokseon, hapjukseon, yunseon, and miseon. Find more details about their differences here.

Conclusion 

So there you have it—my list of the best souvenirs from Korea! Of course, shopping won’t be the only thing you’ll be doing over here. Your Korean vacation will be incomplete without immersing yourself in the local traditions that capture Korea’s history and culture. Spending just a few days on holiday in this beautiful country will leave you with keepsakes and memories that you’ll cherish your whole life.

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Linda

Linda has been living in Asia since 2012 and loves sharing her travel and life experiences on her website. She currently works remotely in Online Marketing and also teaches various English classes in South Korea.

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