SK cosmetics infiltrate wedding gift exchange practices
2015.10.22 13:17 ㅣ 24,050
▲ South Korea's Unifiance compact (left) sells for 180,000 KPW in North Korea's markets. North Korea's Bomhyanggi (spring scent) skin care set sells for 130,000 KPW in the North. Image: Daily NK
[Daily NK] South Korean cosmetics are becoming sought-out wedding gifts in the North as the popular Hallyu (South Korean pop culture) culture seeps into the fabric of North Korean society, Daily NK has learned.
“Unlike the era when I got married, nowadays people think you need to have products from the South in wedding gifts (that are offered to each other’s families) in order for people to think that you’re getting married to a well-off household, so South Korean goods are very popular,” a source from Yanggang Province recently told Daily NK in a telephone conversation.
This trend was confirmed by an additional source in South Hamgyong Province.
Added the source, “A lot of people go around looking for South Korean goods through people they know or at the market. People say that if none of the gifts are from the South, the families exchanging the goods are disappointed.”
In the case of the bride, friends commonly rank the household the woman is marrying into based on where the cosmetics gifted by the groom come from. Preferences for South Korean products overwhelmingly top the list, while Chinese and domestic cosmetics vie for second place depending on the specific product in question.
Illicitly sold cosmetics such as lotion and skin toners from the popular South Korean brand Unifiance (pictured at top) fetch around 180,000 KPW each; Products from Eunhasu (Milky Way), a North Korean brand, come in full sets but only cost 130,000 KPW for the whole lot, just like the domestic Eunhwasu equivalent.
As in many parts of the world, fall is wedding season in North Korea, meaning that those able to afford them are on the hunt for South Korean beauty products north of the border.
“Brides’ families that receive gift boxes with South Korean goods during the engagement ceremony try to make sure they can be on equal footing by buying electronics from the South (to give to the groom),” the source explained.
This trend has become more prominent with the rise of Hallyu within the North and the notion that South Korean products symbolize affluence. Goods from the South are subject to crackdowns from authorities, so they cannot be bought openly in the marketplace, but through personal connections with traders, people are still able to purchase them, said the source.
The popularity of goods from the South make brides and grooms that have family members across the border more attractive as partners, she said, noting, “People really envy those who have family in the South because they can receive hanbok (traditional Korean attire) and most other wedding gifts from South Korea.”