• Must-buy Items

        • 04/03/2023

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        • Korean Shopping

        • K_pop

        • merch

        • fashion

        • K_Fashion

        • K_street_food

        • cosmetics

  • Best Must-buy Items

    Often called the mecca of shopping, Korea offers a wide selection of shopping items from fashion and beauty to food and K-pop merch, all of which present an exciting shopping experience. We introduce unique Korean shopping items that are a necessity on a trip to Korea.

    #1. Fashion: Fashionable items

    Korea presents a range of fashion items from one season to the next in terms of materials and designs since it undergoes four distinct seasons of spring, summer, fall, and winter. Duty-free shops and department stores offer both luxury and affordable brands while select shops in the Seongsu Station area offer the most sophisticated and trendy fashion pieces. On weekends, there are also flea markets in various locations where you may be lucky enough to purchase unique items made by up-and-coming designers at an affordable price. 

    Tip Need alterations? No worries, just wait 30 minutes!

    Have you ever found a piece you really liked but gave up because the size didn’t fit? Don’t worry about that in Korea. Department stores and large shopping malls have alternation shops where clothes can be quickly altered to your liking. Most alteration shops tailor clothes within 30 minutes or an hour at most. Korean alteration technology is excellent, inexpensive, and quick.

     

    Socks

    As socks became popular fashion items, they are one of the most purchased items by travelers in Korea. Korean socks are high quality and has eye-catching, unique designs, and diverse colors, which made them extremely popular. Not only that, the affordable prices make them perfect souvenirs to give to friends and family back home. These socks can be found               
    easily anywhere from traditional markets to street vendors.

    Glasses

    Glasses are another must-buy item in Korea. There are many famous Korean brands that are popular thanks to the combination of excellent quality and inexpensive price tags. Glass frames and sunglasses are extremely diverse in color, design, and price range, which provide a wide selection to choose from. Areas such as Namdaemun and Dongdaemun feature large optical stores for convenient shopping. In Korea, 30 minutes to an hour is all you need even for prescription glasses making it an ideal activity to add to the itinerary.

    【 Shopping for accessories and glasses 】

    #2. K-food_ Enjoy both taste and health!

    Thanks to the popularity of Korean dramas and films, Korean food is also getting a lot of attention. Many tourists come to Korea on a “gourmet trip” to experience the taste that their favorite actors or artists once enjoyed. But it is a little sad to try such great tastes only during your trip. So we introduce items from which you can experience the flavors and memories from Korea even after you return to your home country.

    Dried laver

    Dried laver, or gim, is made by thinly spreading and drying seaweed and is a well-known healthy food that was once introduced by the Wall Street Journal as a Korean superfood. Its convenient storage and light weight make it a popular shopping item to take home from Korea. Korean dried laver is full of protein and dietary fibers and also has a high content of minerals such as Vitamin C, iron and calcium. If you’re already familiar with this snack, try “Gopchanggim,” which is popular among Koreans, and many different kinds of dried laver seasoned with spicy flavors, curry flavors, cheese, wasabi, or salted pollack roe. Gimbugak, which is laver chip, and gimjaban (laver flakes) both offer sweet and salty flavors and are delicious. 

    Ramen

    Ramen, Koreans’ soul food, has now become a global food. Its cheap cost and simple cooking methods enable anyone to easily enjoy it. Some popular brands include the already famous Shin Ramyun, Neoguri, and Buldak (Hot Chicken Flavor Ramen), which presents the essence of spiciness, as well as Chapagetti, a ramen version of Jjajangmyeon noodles. The fact that they can easily be purchased anywhere from neighborhood supermarkets to convenience stores is a plus.

    Kimchi 

    Kimchi is a globally recognized superfood and the epitome of healthy food. It not only presents a spicy and crispy texture as well as a cool taste but also has an abundance of lactobacillus as a fermented food, which helps strengthen immunity. When you leave Korea, we recommend vacuum-packed products for convenient transportation and storage. As time elapses, the taste of kimchi continues to change so it is a good idea to choose a product with a recent manufacturing date. Also, it is an awesome sidekick to ramen.

    Chips and snacks

    If there is a large supermarket nearby, make sure to drop by to buy snacks. It is fun to try snacks of diverse shapes, textures, and flavors ranging from sweet to salty. Almonds and other kinds of nuts are also popular. Today, nuts of unique flavors are available including sweet nuts, mango-flavored nuts, and grilled corn-flavored nuts.

    Tip Top 5 recommended K-snacks

    Often times, there are lists of Korean snacks online that include the popular brands only available in Korea. The following products are commonly found in the top 5 on many of those lists. 

    【 Rice snacks offered in two flavors - sweet and salty.  / Photo credit: Cosmos Confectionery website 】

    【 Rice snacks offered in two flavors - sweet and salty. / Photo credit: Crown Confectionery website 】

    【 Yakgwa, a Korean traditional snack, great as gifts / Photo credit: Samlip Instagram 】

    【 Choco Pie, a classic Korean chocolate snack that is popular around the world / Photo credit: Orion Instagram 】

    【 Notable almond products of HBAF that are available in unique flavors  / Photo credit: HBAF website 】

    Ginseng

    A well-known health food in Korea, ginseng has a strong bitter taste but has become a popular gift choice because it is effective in fatigue recovery, immunity reinforcement, and memory improvement. In recent years, stick-type products have frequently appeared in dramas garnering more attention. There are also sweetened versions in the forms of jelly or candy that are easier to try.

    Korean liquor

    Makgeolli, a Korean traditional liquor, is made by fermenting rice. This liquor has an average alcohol content that is 5 to 6 ABV lower than other popular liquors, allowing soft and delicious flavors. There are also unique flavored makgeolli that utilizes specialty products of each region. Soju has a higher alcohol content than makgeolli by about 15 to 20 ABV but presents a clean and clear taste. It is also available in various flavors of fruits such as lemon and grapefruit. If you’re taking a few back in your luggage, it is more convenient to take bottled or canned products rather than those in plastic containers.  

    【 Ginseng 】

    【 Korean liquor 】

    #3. Cosmetics_ Secret behind the beauty of Hallyu stars

    The popularity of K-beauty is at an all-time high. In addition to the combination of great quality and affordable prices, ingredients obtained from oriental herbs or nature itself are used, which means that Korean cosmetics are not irritating and outstanding in quality. There is a wide variety of items from base makeup products to body, hair, nail, color, and functional cosmetics. As a simple souvenir, we recommend face mask packs. They have excellent quality with inexpensive price tags, and are also offered for many different purposes such as whitening, improving wrinkles, moisturizing the skin, adding glow, and lifting. Animal masks and cartoon character masks are popular gift options that provide both skin management and smiles.

    Visit here to buy cosmetics! 

    ① High-class K-beauty, Sulwhasoo flagship store

    This is a place where you can experience the diverse beauty culture of Sulwhasoo, a popular brand, with your five senses. The oriental spa program held in a cozy, private space is operated on an RSVP system tailored to the skin condition of each visitor. There are branches located in Bukchon and Gangnam and the employees are fluent in English, Chinese, and Japanese to help make the shopping experience more convenient.

    • Address: 18, Dosan-daero 45-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 강남구 도산대로 45길 18)
    • Operating hours: 10:00-21:00
    • Inquiries: +82-2-541-9270 / www.sulwhasoo.com (English, Chinese, Malay, Vietnamese) 

    【 Sulwhasoo flagship store (Photo credit: Spa 1899) 】

    ② Everything about K-beauty, Olive Young

    This is the unrivaled number one drugstore in Korea that has over 1,300 stores nationwide. It sells various cosmetics, health supplies, beauty items, and other miscellaneous goods. This brand is known for introducing trendy products and is a must-visit for those curious about the current trends of K-beauty.

    Olive Young Myeongdong flagship store
    • Address: 9-16, Myeong-dong 1(il)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 중구 명동1가 9-16)
    • Operating hours: 10:00-23:00 
    • Inquiries: +82-2-736-5290 / www.oliveyoung.co.kr (English, Japanese)

    【 Olive Young Myeong-dong flagship store (Photo credit: Olive Young) 】

    #4. K-pop merch_ Artists’ merch all in one place

    K-pop merch are something that cannot be missed if you are a fan of a K-pop star. From photos that are difficult to find overseas and t-shirts with pictures of stars and autographs to backpacks, notebooks, cups, and school supplies, you name it; you will find it. Some of these stores also set up lounges in addition to the shopping areas and, here, you can experience K-pop culture with a different flavor. 

    Visit here to buy K-pop merch!

    ① KWANGYA@SEOUL

    This location has a variety of goods related to SM artists and is easily accessible as it is connected to Seoul Forest Station. The music and photos of the company’s artists flow throughout the space, and the unique interior design and photo zones allow fans to have a delightful, satisfying time.

    • Address: 83-21, Wangsimni-ro, Seongdong-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 성동구 왕십리로 83-21)
    • Operating hours: 10:30-20:00
    • Inquiries: +82-2-6233-6729

    ② SPACE OF BTS

    This is an official goods store for BTS that has opened recently at the Shilla Duty Free Seoul Branch. There are over 330 different kinds of BTS-related goods including clothes, backpacks, and school supplies, which has made it a must-visit spot for ARMY. Since it is located within a duty free store, you can check out and shop at other brand stores as well.

    • Address: 249, Dongho-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 중구 동호로 249)
    • Operating hours: 09:30-18:30
    • Inquiries: +82-2-1688-1110

    ③ Myeongdong Underground Shopping Center

    This shopping center has merch for various K-pop stars and is conveniently connected to Myeong-dong, a popular shopping district. From stickers and photo books to blankets, name tags, and tumblers, the shops have a wide variety of products even making browsing fun.

    • Address: 124, Toegye-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 중구 퇴계로 124)
    • Operating hours: 09:00-23:00 (varies by store)
    • Inquiries: +82-2-776-8932
    Tip1 Do not miss out on specialties from all around the country!

    If you have a chance to travel to a different region in Korea, try the local souvenirs. From Jeonju’s Choco Pie and Gangwon-do’s Potato Bread to Busan’s Seagull Bread and Jeju’s hallabong goods, fun snacks, and diverse souvenirs are available by region.

    【 Potato Bread that looks exactly like an actual potato / Photo credit: Gamzabatt Instagram 】
    Tip2 Line Friends shop: buy Korean character goods

    Ever since they were born as character emoticons of the mobile messenger Line, Line Friends have become the star of character goods for the passionate fandom of young adults worldwide. Various products at the offline store feature Line Friends characters Brown, Cony, and Moon, as well as BT21, character products made in collaboration with the global artist, BTS.

    【 Line Friends Gangnam flagship store designed as a special venue in collaboration with Netflix / Photo credit: Line Friends Instagram 】
    This page was last updated on March 24, 2023, and therefore information may differ from what is presented here.
    1330 Korea Travel Hotline: +82-2-1330 (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese, Russian, Vietnamese, Thai, Malay)

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