Culture Shock: Gift Giving [South Korea]

The Gift

  • Bring fruits/good quality chocolate/flowers/cake/liquor if invited to someone’s home
  • DO NOT give liquor to woman
  • DO NOT give scissors, it represents cutting ties/”cutting off” relationship
  • DO NOT give green headwear, it represents death (I have also read that another reason is that there is a Chinese saying, “戴绿帽子” (wearing the green hat) that means the wearer of a green hat has a spouse who is cheating on him/her)
  • Giving gifts from home country are appreciated

The Gift [Business]

  • DO NOT exceed $100, it will be reported according to ethics laws
  • DO NOT be give/receive overly expensive gift

Wrapping

  • Neat wrapping
  • Red/Yellow are royal colors
  • Yellow/Pink represent happiness
  • Blue is a lucky color
  • DO NOT use Green, White or Black
  • DO NOT use dark color, they represent death

Cards

  • NEVER use red writing, it represents death

Quantity

  • 7 is lucky
  • NEVER give a set of 4, the word for 4 is similar to the word for death in Korean (same rule in Japan & China) **I have also read that multiples of 4 are a no no too**

Price

  • Rude to give expensive gift if you know the person cannot reciprocate equally.
  • Give the gift of greatest value to the most senior person

Giving & Receiving

  • Use BOTH hands to give the gift
  • Gifts are not opened in front of the giver **If you are friends it is ok for the receiver to ask Do you want me to open this?
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