December has begun and Christmas is right around the corner! With the massive success of Gangnam Style in 2012, it really opened up the way for many Korean companies to make their mark on our shores. Now with Christmas coming up, we’re giving you a few ideas of what’s on offer in the UK to get your Korean obsessed friends, a Kpop loving sibling, something to introduce your loved ones to Korea or maybe just to treat yourself!
KCM Christmas list
Last month’s very successful London Korean Film festival showed just how popular Korean films are in the UK. With more and more people being introduced and falling in love with Korean film why not give the gift of entertainment; perfect for those food coma moments after a big Christmas dinner! HMV‘s world cinema DVD collection is constantly growing with infamous films such as OldBoy also available on Bluray. FOPP by Covent Garden/Leicester Square also has a strong Korean collection with many on special discounts. We’ve also heard quite a lot of Korean films being available on Netflix and Lovefilm, with some countries even offering subbed KDramas, and Netflix very handily offer gift subscriptions too! Perfect!
It might be a bit too late to order from online sellers now but did you know that HMV also stocks Kpop albums? You can find Kpop albums in the World music section at HMV 363 Oxford Street (Bond Street). Or check the HoHo’s Kpop shop Facebook page, who often sells Kpop albums and merchandise on Sundays at Seoul Bakery. If it’s hard for you to get to London, why not give iTunes vouchers as most Kpop releases are now available on iTunes as well as a number of Kpop/Korean apps.
And whilst we’re on the subject of Kpop, I’m sure all Kpop fans would really appreciate a Concert ticket IOU. What is that I hear you ask? With Kpop concerts so expensive and ticket information normally announced so suddenly, it is often hard for UK Kpop fans to be able to purchase tickets. So why not help a loved one out with an I Owe yoU? For the next Kpop concert, you solemnly promise to buy them a ticket! Although you might have to be careful with this one as tickets can range from £40 to £150! So far we announced Park Jung Min will be visiting us in January of 2014 on our Facebook page but with rumours of 2NE1 also planning to return for a concert, this might be a bit of a hefty gift!
Alternatively, why not get your loved one a ticket to The Hallyu Stage show? Organised by the LoKos, this show will see many UK Kpop fans performing Kpop dances and sharing their love for Kpop; with the hilarious duo KSpazzing hosting, it will no doubt be a fun day out! And at only £10 a ticket, bring the whole family and learn why everyone is so passionate about Kpop! Younger Kpop fans especially will appreciate the effort you make to understand their hobby, scoring you some major brownie points.
This year we have been very lucky to have a Korean cosmetic brand launch an official UK outlet. Touch in SOL, who has endorsed groups such as ZE:A, Ailee and APink, has made their skincare and cosmetics more accessible to UK customers with a specially catered to UK website. You can find out more about this brand, their products and how to purchase in our Touch in SOL post.
Boots also stocks Korean brand Dr Jart which features BB creams and a overnight moisture mask that is proving very popular with beauty bloggers everywhere. A great gift during these harsh British winters!
South Korea is a very fashionable country and most Korea fans are also very fashion conscious, so shopping vouchers will always be popular! We’ve spoken about Forever 21‘s American Korean heritage before and British Fashion giant Topshop now have chains all over Asia, with one having opened this year in Hong Kong and with SNSD’s Hyoyeon as ambassador. With its wide range of clothes to suit all fashion tastes, Topshop is a safe choice especially as many Kpop artists have been seen donning the high street brand as well. But if you want to go that extra mile, why not try UK Brands such as BOY LONDON and LAZY OAF which are super popular with Korea celebrities. BOY LONDON is readily available online, at Selfridges Department stores and ASOS. With Lazy Oaf also available online, ASOS as well as a boutique by Carnaby Street.
Or if you are feeling very generous, we’re sure all Korea fans out there would love the ultimate Korean fashion accessory, a backpack from the much coveted MCM label. As seen on pretty much all the celebrities in South Korea, it’s the ultimate designer item. MCM have their very own boutique on Sloane Street at Knightsbridge as well as in Harrods department store. We’re pretty sure anything in the MCM monogram will have any fan fawning, why not be different and try a segway ala BigBang’s T.O.P?
Now who doesn’t love food? With so many Korean restaurants and food stalls popping up in London, we’re spoilt for choice. Why not treat someone to a delicious meal this Christmas? Korean restaurant Bibigo has recently been added into the Michelin Guide 2014 and if it’s good enough for 2NE1, it’s good enough for us!
Bibigo UK has also launched a wide range of food products such as Korean sauces and marinades in handy little jars which are perfect for a personalised food hamper. A great gift for those interested in Korean food who may want to give it a go themselves! Bibigo products are now readily available at selected Tescos stores (we spotted some at Edmonton Superstore). Also, don’t forget to take a trip down to Chinatown where most of the supermarkets, such as New Loon Moon Supermarket, have a special Korean food selection making it super easy to pick your items. And why not accompany this with a Korean recipe book? We’ve spotted quite a few at Waterstones book stores and one would complete the perfect Korean food hamper. *P.S Don’t forget the Spam!
If you’re old enough, it wouldn’t be Christmas without a bit of booze and according to The Guardian, Korean Soju has now become the globe’s best-selling alcohol! But be careful, it’s alcoholic content can be up to 45% and Soju hang overs are known as memory erasers! (To give you an idea what this means, wine has an average of 9-16% ABV whereas vodka has 35-50%). You can purchase Soju at selected UK Supermarkets such as Waitrose and Tescos as well as Korean supermarkets and Chinatown.
We may be becoming a digital nation but who doesn’t love some adorable stationery? ARTBOX is a Korean inspired stationery store with chains all over South Korea. In London there’s a concession in Selfridges and its very own store is at Covent Garden. And it’s not just stationery, it’s filled with many cute things from tote bags, pens, notepads, lunch boxes, cuddly toys and even clothing! The perfect one stop Christmas shop.
Something for sports fans! Park Ji-sung may be on loan from QPR and back at his old team PSV Eindhoven for the 2013–14 season but never fear, there are many Korean footballers still based in the UK, so why not treat yourself or a loved one to a football match! Kim Bo-kyung is currently playing for Cardiff City and has quite a following with many South Koreans travelling to Wales especially to watch him play. You can find out more about Kim Bo-kyung here. Also in Wales is fellow South Korean footballer, hailed the Korean David Beckham by fans, Ki Sung-yueng who is signed to Swansea city, but is currently on loan at Sunderland FC with rumours flying round that Sunderland are keen to sign this midfielder permanently. Olympic medalist Yun Suk-young also signed to QPR earlier this year but is currently on loan over at Doncaster Rovers until the end of the year. Do you know any other Korean footballers in the UK? Let us know! To purchase tickets to football matches, visit the Football club’s official websites.
Many people with the passion for South Korea also wish to learn the language, ourselves included. So why not help them get started by buying them study books or even a Korean dictionary as you can’t always trust Google Translate! Waterstones and Foyles bookstore both have a selection of Korean language study books in store (personally we prefer Foyles). There are also many Korean language apps for mobile phones with popular online study resource Talk To Me In Korean also having a range of textbooks, e-books and audio books on offer. Foyles bookstore also has a number of Korean language books, from kids books to Korean versions of Harry Potter to really test your fluency!