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[Opinion] Congratulatory Money on Wedding

Posted April. 08, 2004 22:04,   


In the West there is no custom of giving congratulatory money for the bride and groom. Instead, they present useful household equipments for the newlyweds. In the East however, the custom of providing congratulatory money on weddings is widespread. In Vietnam, for example, if a guest doesn’t present money for weddings, it is interpreted that the guest has an intention of breaking the concerned relation for good. Also, there are many taboos related to this money-giving practice. In China, if a guest puts money in a white envelope and hands it to the concerned, it will put the guest into big trouble. Also if the amount of money a guest gives includes the number “4,” this is interpreted as a big insult. In India, wedding guests avoid giving the amount of money that ends with zero. In Korea, odd numbers are considered fortunate so the unit of congratulatory money on weddings begins 10,000 won and expands to 30,000 and 50,000 won.

According to the research done by the Korea Consumer Protection Board in 2001, Koreans presented on average 104,847 won for their relatives’ weddings, 47,057 won for friends’, and 34,910 won for co-workers’. Eighty-six percent of the research subjects answered that these figures were actually burdensome amounts. The total wedding congratulatory money for an individual wedding reached less than 10 million won for 48 percent of the interviewees. Just one out of 100 wedding recorded garnering more than 50 million won.

The court statement by Jeon Jae-yong, second son of ex-president Jeon Doo-whan, who has been indicted with the suspicion of tax evasion, is frequently talked about. He is charged for evading a 7.3 billion won gift tax after receiving bonds worth 16.7 billion won from Lee Kyu-dong, grandparent on his mother side. Mr. Jeon insists that 16.7 billion won was accrued from the congratulatory money for his wedding from Mr. Lee, 1.73 billion won, and Mr. Lee increased around two billion won to 16.7 billion won. What Mr. Jeon proclaims is that he received more than 30 times the congratulatory money than the top one percent that rich class people use for congratulatory money on weddings. The prosecution, however, doesn’t buy Mr. Jeon’s fiction-like statement of 1.7 billion won sourced from wedding congratulation and the fortune increased to 12.7 billion won by his grandparent.

If the fund Mr. Jeon received was a slush fund created by ex-president Jeon, the nation will become really deplorable. It would be the same if Mr. Jeon’s statement is true.

If 30 guests presented 1.6 billion won at his wedding, each guest was supposed to pay more than 50 million won. Probably they had their own “taboo” of paying more than the amount of money, which includes seven zeros at least. Moreover, if the statement is true, it means that he received the fund back in December 1987 and the extinctive prescription of prosecution has expired already. I wish the statement would be “fiction” not to discourage the people who have worked so hard and paid their taxes regularly.

Editorial Staff Cheon Kwang-am iam@donga.com