Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Open for Business

Dear Korean,

If I were to throw a party for a group of Korean's celebrating a new business venture, how would I impress them?

Boston, USA

First of all, always remember the Foreigner Rule: Koreans generally do not expect non-Koreans to know anything about Korea. This means demonstrating even just a little bit of familiarity about Korean language and customs go a long way toward impressing Koreans. Including Korean food in the party, for example, is always a good idea.

It is also common to give gifts to a new business owner. Don't get so hung up on the "cultural" thing here. As always, the best gift is a thoughtful one that addresses the need, regardless of culture. But if you want to show off your familiarity with Korean customs, a flower pot or a bouquet is usually the gift of choice for a new business owner. Usually bouquets are given on a large stand, with a well-wishing messages printed on the ribbons. Like this:

This is a bouquet sent from Freestyle (a rap group) to Haha
(former co-host of Infinite Challenge) to celebrate the opening of
Haha's new restaurant. The ribbon says, from the right:
"Screw your business, I got my own stuff to worry about."
"Congratulations for the Release."
"The Seventh Album from Freestyle is available everywhere."
This is obviously a joke. Please do not try with your Korean business partner.

Alternatively, an orchid is also rather popular. For those who are horticulturally challenged, a typical orchid given as gifts in Korea looks like this:

If you live in Korea, you might have seen
these plants a lot in offices.

Of course, Korean lettering on the ribbons would make the gift all the more impressive. With that, best of luck for all the new business owners.

Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at askakorean@gmail.com.


  1. If he really wants to get traditional he can set the bouquets on either side of an altar containing a smiling hog's head, mouth stuffed with money.

    It's still quite a common practice in Seoul, even among new technology ventures.

  2. TK, Haha is back on "Infinite Challenge" as a regular member.

  3. I know you don't like people picking on your grammar, but you might want to fix the phrase "flower of pot" (in the middle of the second paragraph) because I believe you mean something substantially different.

  4. Wanda, the Korean LOVES it when people point out grammatical errors in the post. Keep them coming.

  5. Haha is a regular on Running Man also!

  6. "If you life in Korea, you might have seen
    these plants a lot in offices."
    Maybe you meant say live instead of life.

  7. If I (who cannot read or write Korean) tried to copy a phrase that I knew to be correct in Hangul, would the results be acceptable or insulting? I assume it would look like a small child had written it. But would the intent be clear and understandable or would it turn out that I had written 'your mother looks like a dog' or something worse?


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