Etiquette Is Important, Part 1 (Gift Giving)

Over the last couple of decades etiquette in America has gotten more lax. But even if you’re well versed in American etiquette, you might be lost when it comes to Korean etiquette. Much about what is expected in Korea is very different from the approach in America.

Since I have a year of blog posts to fill, I’ll go over some specifics of etiquette a little at a time. Today we’ll start with gift giving since it’s something many adoptive families do while in Korea.

• Offer and receive gifts with both hands, with palms facing up.
• Wrapped gifts are usually not opened in the presence of the giver.
• Wrap gifts in bright colors.
• If you are visiting a Korean home, be sure to take a small gift for the hostess. Candy, flowers, and fruit make great hostess gifts. Avoid giving liquor as a gift to a woman.
• Good gift ideas: regional items from the U.S., western items, fruit, desk accessories, or small mementos
• Gifts to avoid: expensive gifts, knives or scissors (which symbolize cutting off the relationship), anything with red writing on it (names of the dead are written in red), and items that come in sets of four (also signifies death)
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