South Korea Gift Etiquette
  • Gifts are offered and given with both hands. Wrapped gifts are never opened in the presence of the giver. 
  • The gift should be wrapped nicely and preferably in bright colours. Stray away from black and the darker colours or red which connotates death. 
  • Always bring a small gift for the hostess when invited to someone’s home (cake, chocolate, fruits, flowers). Do not give alcohol to a woman. 
  • Avoid giving knives or scissors since they symbolize “cutting off” a relationship), green headwear, gifts with red writing which  denotes death or gifts in a set of four (also denotes death).
  • Expect that Koreans will refuse a gift couple of times. This reluctance is considered good manners, so be persistent.
  • Use both hands when giving or receiving a gift. Gifts are not opened in the presence of the giver, unless you are a very good friend. If so, you can ask him/her, ‘Do you want me to open it?’
  • A gift of money should be put in an envelope, it is given customary for weddings, birthdays, funerals, etc.
  • Lilies should not be given as a gift since they are meant for a funeral service. Lilies can evolve the feeling of tranquility and they stand-in for the innocence that has been restored after death.

Koreans believe strongly in reciprocity

Koreans believe strongly in reciprocity when it comes to gift giving. Whenever a person receives a gift, it is customary for the recipient to give another gift of similar value in return at a later time This is important to know because you don’t want to give something very expensive as the receiver will feel obligated to reciprocate with a gift of equal value.

South Korea Gift Etiquette
Copyright: Julia Wimmerlin
South Korea Gift Etiquette
Copyright: Julia Wimmerlin

Photography Credits

Julia Wimmerlin

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