What presents do people give at Chuseok Thanksgiving?

It’s the time to give gifts to family, friends, clients, and acquaintances. So I had a look at the Interpark online shopping site to see what’s on offer this year.

As usual the types of gifts are separated into categories including  food, health supplements, and household products. Many Chuseok gift sets are priced within the Kim Young Ran law which came into effect last year and states that gifts (to civil servants) must not cost over 50,000 won. But of course between family and friends there is no limit on how much you are allowed to spend. Here are some common gifts that might well be exchanged this Thanksgiving.


We have to start with SPAM. I wouldn’t give my mother-in-law Spam, but tinned foods are popular gifts from company employers to employees.

There are usually plenty of salarymen carrying briefcases of Spam on the subway at this time of year. Although Spam is the signature tinned product at Chuseok, tins of tuna sets are hot on Spam’s heels. Or combos of Spam/tuna and oil – olive oil, canola oil, or sesame oil.



For fruit, Asian pears, semi dried persimmon, apples, and maybe some melons are at the top of the list. Reasonably priced box sets of fruit are available in the supermarket but for high quality fruit (don’t ask me how quality is decided, but it often seems like the bigger the better) the prices can go up through the roof.

Then there are imported fruit sets of kiwi from New Zealand or mango from the Philippines which are usually more reasonably priced.

I love semi dried persimmon. They are really tasty. (middle pic below)

chuseok fruit


Semi dried yellow corvina fish is one of the signature gifts and it has a massive price range too depending on the quality.

Abalone is seen as a luxury product and can be delivered straight from the shores of Wando in the south of Korea in ice packed containers. Abalone can be sliced and eaten raw with a red chilli sauce dip or cooked in rice porridge.

Other seafood gift sets include seaweed, (kim) and anchovy (myeolchi) for making side dishes and soup stock.

chuseok seafood


I think every other restaurant in Seoul these days is a bbq meat restaurant. I very rarely meet a vegetarian so I suppose most people would be pleased to be given some high quality Korean beef as a gift. It’s not cheap. Here’s a pic of the Andong beef set advertised on the website. There’s a lot of effort here to make raw meat look appetising… Is it working?

chuseok beef


Some companies give their office workers a choice when it comes to their Chuseok present. Do you want Spam or shampoo?

If you’re asking me, I’ll take the shampoo.

But Spam has been popular here since the Korean war when it became a luxury item. All sorts of gift sets involving various household products area available. I like this idea. It’s practical. I mean, who doesn’t need toothpaste, etc?

chuseok gifts

Of all the shampoo and body wash sets I looked at, I really liked the black and white design of the Kerasys body wash and shampoo set.

The simple black hangul characters  on a white background look stylish and clean and they are different from the usual colourful shampoo containers. I haven’t actually tried these products myself though. I just like the look of them! The set includes body wash, shampoo, soap, and a scrubbing flannel (for removing dead skin….) And at under 10,000 won, it’s cheap too.

So I thought it would be a simple task to translate what is written on the containers.

Blimey, was I wrong.

The writing is pithy and playful in Korean but is hard to translate into English because there is a lot of word play. For example the word 때 (dae) as in 때수건 dae soo-gon (scrubbing cloth) can mean ‘time‘ or ‘dead skin cells‘. I think I’ve made my point.

The translation deserves a whole post to itself. So for the time being I’m just going to enjoy the design of the packaging.

chuseok gift


And finally, health products are definitely popular to give to relations, especially elders who probably would not fork out on these products for themselves. Who wouldn’t be delighted with an expensive imported box of vitamins or some Korean ginseng?

Do you see anything you fancy?

chuseok ginseng


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