So I’ve just finished my Christmas present shopping for this year – I left it a bit late really. As always I was on the hunt for Korean gifts to send home. Last year on my Korean gift hunt, I found all sorts of things from ‘Gangnam Style tea’ to a ‘garlic case apparatus’. This year on my quest for something cute, I headed straight for the Kakao Friends shop. Then I found some practical goods in the Sillymann store, and finally nibbles at Lotte Department Store…
If you are in Seoul and looking for something cute and Korean to give this year, the Kakao Friends shop is a great place to start. There are several around the city – one in the COEX in Gangnam, one in the Express Bus Terminal in Seocho, and one in the IFC Mall in Yeouido. See kakao talk here on Facebook
Pretty much everyone in Korea uses Kakao Talk the free instant messaging app. And their adorable emoticons have now become a plastic or fluffy, cuddly 3d reality in the new Kakao Friends stores! I have to say I love the characters. There is nothing that can’t be said with a KakaoTalk emoticon!
There’s all sorts on sale from Kakao Friends pencil tops to toothpaste, cuddly toys and jewellery. There are little nap pillows, various kinds of cases and pouches, notebooks and stationery. Or some people might simply like a figure of their favourite character. I think something from here would make a great gift even for someone who isn’t familiar with the Kakao characters. Because they are just so cute!
The Kakao friends are EVERYWHERE these days. The company has teamed up with the Korean fashion brand Beanpole where you can now also buy Beanpole accessories – bags and wallets – with the Kakao Friends on them. And I noticed in my local supermarket that you can also buy Kakao Friend air fresheners there…
For a more practical gift, something from Sillymann (!) might be a winner. Sillymann is a Korean brand that specialises in silicone kitchenware. The colours are bright and they make products for Korean kitchens such as chopsticks for cooking, small pots for kimchi stew, and rice rollers for making kimbap.
There are Sillymann stalls in all the department stores. They also have a range of items for camping or hiking, since mountain hiking is a national pastime. I picked up these silicone cups that clip onto your bag and can flatten down completely when not in use. They come in a nice range of colours too. I’m having hours of fun just pulling out the cup and flattening it down again …
3 KOREAN NIBBLES
Of course any festive season is not complete without nibbles. I’ve gone for a healthy theme this year – sugared ginger (OK so there’s sugar involved but it IS Christmas), sliced dried jujube berries, and soy bean snacks.
Jujube is usually used in desserts or for herbal tea, but the shop assistant said this was a snack, so great to nibble on while watching the end of year shows on TV. The food court in the department stores around Seoul have a huge range of snacks – from savoury or sweet rice cakes to peanuts mixed with dried whole anchovies and dried squid. The list is endless. It just depends what you are looking for