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Gifts for a family in Korea

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Hello all. My first time posting on the Asia board. My teenage daughter may be doing a homestay for about 10 days in South Korea this summer. We live in the U.S. She will be taking gifts for the host family. They are not supposed to be terribly expensive. Does anyone have any ideas for appropriate gifts for the parents and for teenage boys and girls? Thanks for any good ideas you can give me.

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    A box of good quality chocolates for the entire family or some other food gift which is native to where you live would be a good general gift (jam, maple syrup, barbeque sauce, etc not fresh fruit which is usually hard to bring into another country. While some of these items are not part of Korean cuisine, the gesture would be appreciated, and may lead to a new liking.) A picture book of your city or home state would also be appreciated; I think you are from the LA area so something connected to California or Hollywood might be interesting. A key chain of your city or state might be a good gift, or a branded key chain as long as it is not overly expensive (like a Coach key chain versus a Tiffany key chain). Bath products or perfume for the wife and possibly the teenage girls, again as long as it is not overly expensive, would be a nice gesture. (Most US and European brands are available in Korea, so again if there is something native to your State, that might be more unusual.)

    DVDs or CDs for the family or the children would probably be appreciated. If the DVD’s have Korean subtitles or dubbing, even better, but I would not stress over it if you can’t find Korean subtitles. The CDs can be of US artists; again it is the gesture that is appreciated, whether or not the children have heard of the artist. (But everyone knows Michael Jackson, for example.) Baseball caps of US teams might be a good gift for teenage boys (baseball is popular there), although I think these are fairly readily available in South Korea. If the home stay is in a remoter area not near Seoul, then these may not be as available.

    I would agree that the gifts should not be lavish; an expensive give will only embarrass the family who most likely won’t have gifts to return. Gifts should be given (and received) with both hands. Your daughter should not expect that the gifts will be opened in front of her, this is considered impolite and greedy. She will most likely be thanked, and the gifts put aside. No other mention may be made of the gift.

    I don’t know as much about gift-giving in Korea as I do in some other Asian cultures, but some gifts are associated with bad luck. I know this is the case in China for gifts like watches, clocks and in some cases books. So sticking with food gifts, CDs, or items from your home state or city may be a better choice.

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