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Cute Things You Can Only Find in South Korea

Young woman traveling and shopping in Myeongdong street market at Seoul, South Korea.
Young woman traveling and shopping in Myeongdong street market at Seoul, South Korea. | © Travelers / Shutterstock
No one does cute quite like South Korea. Whether it’s latte art, photographs, couple clothes or theme parks, it’s all guaranteed to make you go ‘aww’. Here are some of the most surprising things that South Koreans manage to make cute.

Socks

Ask anyone who’s been living in South Korea what their number one souvenir recommendation is, and nine times out of ten they’ll say socks. Cheap and cheerful is the name of the game with these bad boys, and cuteness is dialled up to the max.

Korean socks with a white and pink cat © Serena Sambataro / Shutterstock

Debit cards

You might have heard of Kakao Friends, the cute mascots of Korean messaging app Kakao Talk. Kakao Corp, the app’s parent company, also offers a range of other services, including Kakao Bank. One of the big draws of this bank are its debit cards, which have a number of designs featuring — you guessed it — the Kakao Friends. Many Koreans opened a Kakao bank account as soon as the bank was launched, just to get their hands on one of the coveted cards.

Kakao Friends © Kakao

Condoms

You might not think that cute cartoon characters would get you in the mood to get it on, but in South Korea, it’s par for the course. Many condom brands feature super-sweet packaging — for example, a box in the shape of a tiny strawberry milk carton, or cute fruit designs to flavoured condoms.

Boy band signature moves

K-pop bands are known for their ‘cute concept’. The genre is marketed towards younger teenage girls, and K-pop stars win the hearts of thousands through being cute and innocent. Korean even has a word for this — aegyo, which encompasses affectionate or flirtatious expressions of cuteness such as a baby voice, cute expressions and phrases. K-pop stars show their love for their fans through the cutest hand gesture ever — the thumb and first finger are crossed to make a tiny heart.

K-pop band BTS © Lee Young Ho / Sipa USA / REX / Shutterstock

Computer keyboards

Ever felt your computer keyboard is a bit too bland? In South Korea, you can bling it up with stickers designed for the express purpose of making your keys look cuter. If you need a little more motivation to get to work, add matching laptop case stickers.

Matching hair ornaments for couples

On date day, Koreans take matchy-matchy couple style to the max. But even if you’ve not coordinated your outfits, fear not! There’s a simple way to show the world who your boo is, with matching hair ornaments. You can buy these in tourist spots and youth hangouts all over Korea, and they come in a wide variety of forms. The most popular kind is a simple red heart.

Two women dancing in Korean national costume © Zen S Prarom / Shutterstock

Face masks

South Korea is known as the home of face masks. A popular kind is the ‘animal’ face mask, which is printed with a cute animal face that you can put over your own — if you’ve ever wanted to be a panda, a cat or Puss in Boots from Shrek, these face masks allow you to do so. Who says skincare can’t be cute?

Cosmetic products on display at Lotte Department Store in Busan, South Korea © Sorbis / Shutterstock