The Chuseok holiday is a major harvest festival and 3 days holiday, also known as the Korean Thanksgiving day. It’s celebrated in both South and North Korea during the autumn season according to the lunar calendar.
Since the holiday is following the lunar colander, its date is changing every year. In 2020, it was celebrated between 30 September and 2 October. In 2021 it will be celebrated between 20 September to 22 September and in the year of 2022, Chuseok holiday will be celebrated between 9 September to 11 September.
While Chuseok is a local Korean holiday, it is one of the most appropriate holidays not only to greet your Korean partners, clients or employees, but also to give them a nice gift in honor of the holiday and the business relationship.
Giving a holiday gift is a common business practice in Korea and it is done mostly between family members, close business partners or employees. However, around Chuseok holiday time it’s advisable to give a gift even on first time meeting with a important Korean client or partner, in order show proficiency in the local culture as well as determination to do business.
Well, what is customary to give as a gift for Chuseok to a business partner or employee in South Korea?
The Korean Herald, a national Korean newspaper, listed up 10 Chuseok gifts Koreans love to get:
- Cash – money as a gift give them the freedom to do whatever they want with it;
- Red Ginseng – is the most commonly sought after health food product;
- Hanwoo (한우) – a premium local fresh beef in a nice gift set box to bring to the special ones;
- Hangwa (한과) - general term for traditional Korean confections. Gifts sets can be found in department stores.
- Liquor – any good liquor except beer can work here, especially with the right gift box;
- Spam – set of spam cans and oils bottle still considered as reasonable and useful gift for the holiday;
- Seasonal Fruits – Apples, pears and purple grapes are great choice for healthy gift;
- Daily Necessities – Usually not to be considered as a gift, but a set of shampoos, toothpastes and soaps can do the work for basic and functional gift;
- Massage devices - it can come in different size and forms, but the idea is to give a gift that can provide comfort or joy to your partner or client;
- Face Masks – Due to the Coronavirus pandemic a set of disposable masks and sanitizers can be considered as gift as well, if packed well.
The gifts mentioned above are mostly given among family members or between locals, but one can learn from them about the accepted type of gifts in Korea. If you are foreigner and not sure what gift to buy or bring to your Korean client or partner, we suggest giving a gift that meets the following three principales:
- First, the gift should be modest and not very expensive.
- Second, the gift should be useful whether for the specific person you are meeting with or for the office or company in which he/she works.
- Third and the most important never give a gift that is cash or money.
In regards the type of gift, our recommendation is to give a gift that symbolizes or originates from the country you come from. For example, if you are originally from Greece or Israel, then a set of quality olive oil and local olives can be a great gift as long as it packed well.
Gift package is important as well, sometimes more than the gift itself. As you can see in the picture above, a kit of spam, salt and oil which are basic products will still be considered a respectable gift as these are packaged in such a way.
*Photo courtesy of the Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and taken by photographer Jeon Han.