What to buy in Korea.. (an informative)

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What to buy in Korea.. (an informative)

Post  Daphne and Co on Wed Mar 03, 2010 12:52 am

Alcohol & Liquors
Korea has a long tradition of drinking. As part of an agrarian society, many farmers developed grain alcohols from their local specialties. Korea's most famous drinks are all made from rice: soju, dong-dong-ju, and makkolli. The different regions of Korea each have their own distinctive methods for making drinks, with some local residents achieving Intangible Cultural Asset status.

Antiques
Popular antique items include Silla (668 - 935) paintings, ceramics, pottery, and metal craft work; Goryeo (918-1392) ceramics; and Joseon (1392-1910) wooden chests, furniture, and white celadon (pottery). Remember that the Korean Cultural Properties Preservation Law forbids the exporting of designated "important cultural properties." Take care when purchasing genuine antiques. Make sure you get a certificate of authentication and have the item assessed by the Art & Antiques Office (Tel: 662-0106 or 664-8997) if you have any doubts.

Bamboo
Koreans turn bamboo into a number of products, including beds, chairs, pillows, blinds, and ladders. Bamboo mats create a small pocket of air between the person and ground, offering a cooler environment from sitting directly on the ground.

Brush Paintings & Supplies
Calligraphy and brush painting are popular hobbies among the young and old. Brushes of all different sizes, inks of various colors, and traditional paper of many types of textures can be found at specialty shops, especially in Seoul's Insadong area.

Cloth & Clothing
Many different types of tailor-made and off-the-rack clothes can be bought in Korea. Korean tailors can custom make a suit and set of hand-made shirts in a couple of days. Korean sizes tend to be a little small for Westerners. That "large" T-shirt you buy in Namdaemun Market may not be large enough! Korea has a wide selection of fine silks and other fabrics. You can also buy hand made traditional clothes (for more information about Traditional Clothes, see the Cultural Spotlight section.)

Electronics
As one of Korea's major exports, many types of electronics good are available, from computers and computer chips to TVs to microwave ovens to stereo equipment. Department stores, specialty markets, and brand name stores all carry a wide selection, but the prices tend to be higher than back home (due to heavy government subsidies of exported products). Prices at discount stores and the Yongsan electronics market can be as much as 30% cheaper. Domestic products use 220 volts, while most U.S. appliances use 120. Transformers from 220 to 110 and 110 to 220 can be found at most electronics stores. Most products include excellent after-sales service where repairmen come to your house to pick up the faulty item, take it to their repair shop and fix it (if they are unable to repair it on the spot), then return it to your door again. In Seoul, visit the Yongsan Electronics Market for the best buys.

Furs
With the deeply discounted price of fur products in Korea, you can almost save the price of your plane ticket by coming to Korea and making a purchase. Specialty fur shops and and duty-free stores usually have the best bargains. Most department stores also have off-season sales during the summer months.

Garlic
As one of the staple ingredients in many types of Korean food, garlic can be found at any market or food store. Koreans buy it whole, chopped, and powdered. Several areas are famous for their garlic yields. One of the most famous, Tanyang, even has an annual Miss Garlic beauty pageant.

Ginseng
The Greek words pan (all) and Axos (medical drug) combine to form panax ("cure all"), part of the scientific name for ginseng. A staple of Chinese herb medicine, ginseng is used as preventative treatment for a number of ailments. Because of the personal attention given by individual farmers and close government supervision of the process, Korean ginseng has a world-wide reputation for high quality.

Handbags and Suitcases
Korean shops carry a wide choice of purses, hand bags, back packs, travel bags, suitcases, and briefcases. Prices vary depending on the quality of the items, the types of store, and your bargaining skills. The items are made from cowhide, alligator, or eel skin, as well as a variety of synthetic. Handbags follow international fashion trends, and the latest styles from Europe are quickly copied by domestic makers.

Handicrafts and Traditional Goods
In addition to bamboo, brush painting supplies, and pottery, Korea produces many different types of traditional handicrafts. Lacquerware tables, chairs, wardrobes, and chests can be found in many homes. Brass is fashioned into vases, lamps, and tables. Wooden masks used for generations in plays and dances are also popular collectibles. (For more information about masks, see the Hahoe Mask Museum pages in the Travel section.) Many women enjoy macrame and embroidery, and many shops can be found specializing in these items.

Jade
To Koreans, jade symbolizes purity. You can find a wide selection of necklaces, bracelets, hair pins, and statues made from this material. Ch'unch'on in Kangwon Province is rich in nephrite jade and many craftsmen work in the area.

Jewelry
Korean jewelers have a wide variety of rings, necklaces, earings, and bracelets made from local amethyst, topaz, and jade. Gold and silver are also popular materials, and diamonds are a girl's best friend in any country. Jewelers should be able to provide a certificate of authenticity for all items they sell.

Kimch'i
What would Korea be without kimch'i? There are over 40 different variations of spiced radishes or cabbage fermented with hot peppers, onions, salt, and garlic. Each family has their own way of making it, giving theirs a unique flavor. Not all kimch'i is hot, but some types do require some getting used to. However, once you get used to it, you will probably find yourself getting urges for it! There are even kimch'i museums showing the main types and the process of making it. See our Cultural Spotlight highlighting kimch'i.

Leather and Eel Skin Products
Korea has great prices for all sorts of leather products. Find the coats, jackets, belts, gloves, shoes, and wallets you want in a multitude of designs and colors. Many of these products can also be found made from eel skin and other unusual materials.

Name Stamp (Dojong)
Instead of signing their names, Koreans stamp important documents with their name chop (dojong), although nowadays the practice is being replaced by actual signatures. Traditionally, the chops used the Chinese characters (Hanja) of the person's name, but Korean characters (Hangul) have become more common. You can order a name stamp on-line from our Silla Gift Shop.

Shoes
In addition to the numerous real and imitation Nikes, Reeboks, and Addidas sports shoes for sale, leather and suede dress shoes are also a good bargain. Like clothing, Korean sizes tend to be small, so you may have trouble finding larger sizes unless you go to It'aewon. Many places can also custom make shoes and boots.

Sporting Goods
In addition to shoes and sports clothes, Korea makes a wide selection of other sporting goods, such as tennis rackets, ski equipment, fishing rods, and baseball gloves. Famous makers like Nike and Reebok, as well as many Korea brands, have outlets in most major shopping areas.

Tea
Like other Asian societies, Korea has a long history of a tea culture. Many people enjoy drinking nok-ch'a (green tae) or insam-ch'a (tea with ginseng). Although many traditional tea houses have been replaced by coffee shops and bars, a few still thrive in Seoul's Insa-dong area. You can order tea online from the Life in Korea Food and Drink Store.

Watches
Watches in a wide range of prices can be had in Korea. Well-known name brands are on sale here, as well as many cheap imitations. Although some prices may be outrageously cheap, be sure you know the customs regulations for bringing counterfeit items into your home country. As any any country, beware of people selling $50 Rolexes!
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