About Korea > Modern Life

Money Gifts and Bribes

The expectation of money gifts (envelopes) at Korean weddings and funerals, while helpful to the family in meeting the high expenses of these rituals, have also been used as a cover for bribery.

People in positions of influence, power or authority could invite those needing their help to a family wedding or funeral. Those dependent on their largesse or influence dared not refuse. Even if they could not attend (for a very very good reason), they would be expected to send a monetary gift.

For example, it would not have been unusual for a politician or official in an education-related postion to invite the principals of all the schools in her/his jurisdiction to her/his child's wedding - none would dare ignore the invition and all would make a monetary gift at the very least.

The country revised its election laws in 2004 to make it illegal for politicians to give cash 'envelopes' except at the weddings or funerals of close relatives. While this as not totally stopped the practice of giving gifts at the weddings/funerals of voters, it has made some of those who ignore the law vulnerable to suffering in the court of public opinion and to facing prosecution by the courts.

K4E Editor: Korea4Expats.com tries to ensure that the information we provide is accurate and complete, so should you notice any errors or omissions in the content above please contact us at info@korea4expats.com

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