Friday, April 13, 2007

The Payoff

When people came to the funeral in Namhae they left gifts of money (or sent them in absentia) for the bereaved family as is tradition. However, tradition also demands that it can't be just left at that, so in a reciprocal symbol of gratitude it is normal for the family to return a much smaller gift of money in return. This has become complicated in recent times, as it seems that because these reciprocal gifts are a pleasantry rather than a social necessity, they can run the risk of being seen as bribery where the receiver is a member of government, the civil service or the police.

Now that the immediate tasks post-funeral in Namhae are out of the way, Korean Father has returned to Busan for a couple of days, and one of his tasks while here is to write to the people who either came to the funeral or sent money instead thanking them. But, although he
has retired from the police service, many of his former colleagues are still working, so rather than send small gifts of money with the thank you letters, he is including a lottery ticket instead. It seems that some years ago someone came up with the idea of substituting small financial gifts with these, the idea has stuck, and now it's a quite common thing to do.

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