Holiday Burdens from Korea

December 3, 2013

“Can you go buy a Gucci bag on Black Friday and ship it to Korea?” 

 Korean Americans often become reluctant shoppers at this time of the year

For a lot of Korean Americans, the holiday shopping season  means they are going to get a lot of calls from Korea. (AP)

For a lot of Korean Americans, the holiday shopping season means they are going to get a lot of calls from Korea. (AP)

For those Koreans who live in the United States, it’s the price you have to pay for having friends or relatives in Korea. Sometimes you have no choice but to participate in the Black Friday frenzy.

Their requests keep on barging in every year, and it’s really no different than an uninvited guest popping up at your front door completely unannounced.

Only identified by last name and age here, 25-year old Los Angeles resident Kim says she had to buy five Coach brand purses last Friday at the Citadel Outlets. “It’s true that I saved as much as 60% since it was Black Friday, but they are not mine,” she explained. ”I was just doing favors for friends and relatives in Korea.”

Another Korean American, 36-year old Park, says she gets nervous when she gets text messages during this time of the year, especially on Kakao Talk, because of such requests. “They’ve either been here [before] to know, or heard about Black Friday sales through the media and they don’t hesitate to ask,” she says. “It’s not like I don’t have enough to do as it is, but it’s difficult to say ‘No.’”

What ends up happening is they will end up not only shopping for their own presents to give to friends and relatives during the holiday season, but they also end up shopping for their friends and relatives’ gifts for their friends and relatives.

And, shopping is only half the hassle, as these goods have to be packed and shipped.

Another Kim, 33, complained that he’s been doing this for three years now. “I don’t mind doing that for my family, since I have to get them presents anyway, but when too many people ask, it really becomes a burden,” he said. “The person who asks tends to think he is the only one, but often he is only one of many. I really don’t think they know how much of a chore it is, shipping and all, when they ask.”

Korean delivery businesses in Koreatown seem to be the only ones happy with this situation. Charlie Lee of LA Korean Express says orders pour in from Korea to purchase and ship vitamins, health supplements and other items during the holiday rush.