Saturday, January 29, 2011

Shopping for Seollal

Seollal, 설날, is the Korean lunar New Year Festival.  This is the time when Koreans return to their ancestral homes to see their relatives and tend the graves of their ancestors,  Since it's a lunar thing, the dates can vary considerably--this year it's Wed., Thur. and Fri. of next week.  Lots of Seoulites are taking two vacation days Mon. and Tues., so if you don't work Saturday it's a nine-day vacation--virtually unheard of here! 

Seollal really does tend to empty out the city, and the streets can be eerily quiet.  Not today or tomorrow, of course, at least not on the two main streets of my neighborhood: Yeomchang-no is a main connector to the Olympic Parkway and points west, and Gonghang-no is the direct route to Gimpo Airport; they are both bumper-to-bumper.

When Koreans travel home to visit their relatives, they take gifts.  Nice gifts.  Expensive gifts.  Like Spam.  And mushrooms.  Anf coffee.  But seriously, things like ... Spam, and mushrooms, and cofffee.  But for the purposes of gifting, these products are all wrapped up in nice cardboard gift boxes and exhorbitant pricetags attached.  And hawked by pretty ladies (도움이, doumi) in traditional hanbok.  To wit (from my local neighborhood E-Mart):

The whisky doumi
I'll have the Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam and Spam.  I like Spam.

If you don't want that much Spam, have the Spam--well, the Housewife brand of "luncheon meat" ,  mild (water-packed) tuna, and soybean oil

Or, the Spam with huge packs of laver, aka, dried seaweed

A gift box of soap, toothpaste and shampoo products sends your loved one a not-so-subtle message
Industrial size packages of instant coffee mixes, beloved by Koreans

Korean red ginseng extract, noted for its virility-enhancing propertes

Raw ginseng, noted for its money-extracting properties (those packs are roughly USD 200-400)
Assorted fungus and nut gift boxes

Some kind of mushroom
"King Crab Set", 3.6 kg of frozen King cab legs for about USD 95
Candy assortmets, presumably for the children
This blog post should not be considered an endorsement of E-Mart, Korean red ginseng or any of the other products pictured here, except King crab legs.  And maybe Spam.  Oh, and I do like whisky okay.  Further, this blog received no remuneration or other consideration from E-Mart, Shinsaegae corporation, its parent companies or subsidiaries, more's the pity.


Chris said...

"assorted fungus and nut" gift set! I hope you stocked up.

George Bailey Sees The World! said...

Dude - those prices are at E-Mart? Just imagine how much higher they would be at Lotte or Hyudai Dept. Stores. I hope I'm never in the position where I have to pay for a wrapped box of Spam or face the family wrath. I'll be wrapping my own, thanks.

Tanner Brown said...

You should do a post containing Spam -- oh wait [barfs].
Another small spelling mistake "adf". Otherwise you are a god.