(Family and kin) "Congratulation money" in weddings
|Chun Chae-yong, the second son of the former president Chun Doo-hwan, is in trial for evading taxes worth of 7.4 billion won (4.9 mil €), which were due from 16.7 billion worth of housing bonds (?) (chut'aek ch'aekwôn). (One article and another article in Hankyoreh.)|
Chun Chae-yong has maintained that the money is originally from the congratulation monies given at the time of his wedding in 1987 to the daughter of Pak Tae-jun, the long-time head of Posco Steel. The wedding was kept at Chongwadae (Presidential "Blue House") with almost no guests, and no congratulation money (ch'ugûigûm) taken at the request of his father the president. Still, the friends and relatives needed to give their congratulation money to someone, so the envelopes (or in this case perhaps apple boxes) were given to the young Chun's maternal grandfather instead. Congratulation money from 30 persons or families totalled 1.6 billion won (1 million €) back then. The maternal grandfather delivered the money to the young Chun, who after consulting his mother but in secret from his father put the money in several bank accounts. He left for the US the next year and had his maternal grandfather take care of the sum meanwhile. And by 2000 when the young Chun needed money for a business, the sum had swelled to 16.7 billion W. His explanation of not paying the gift tax (chûngyôse) is that he couldn't know what was the original congratulation money and what his grandfather's money of the whole sum (“얼마가 축의금이고 얼마가 할아버지 돈인지 분리할 수 없었기 때문에 증여세를 낼 수 없었다”). One point in this all has been that this money has been suspected of being part of Chun the president's hidden assets.
So what is the point of this note? To pay attention to the habit of paying "congratulation money" at weddings, and how the society power relations are reflected in them. He should've paid the gift tax anyway, at least according to the case some years ago when a young couple was ordered to pay gift tax of a huge sum of congratulation money given to them after the wedding by his (or was it her) father, as the court decided the congratulation money given in the wedding should be seen as a contribution from the guests to the parents for the wedding expenses.
Another piece of news from Hankyoreh, which shows that the political leaders are not allowed to celebrate weddings of their offspring in peace. Son Hak-kyu, the governor of Gyeonggi-do, had planned to spend the wedding of his oldest daughter quietly, and invited family, relatives, and acquaintances only by word of mouth without formal invitation cards. They had prepared food for some 300 people, but the word had spread out and more than 1000 people turned out. At the present moment, social and political atmosphere is such that all the congratulation money and congratulation flower wreaths (hwahwan) were sent back.
(In the better old days in '99, when Kim Dae-jung was president and Kwon No-gap was out of jail and working as an advisor to KDJ's party, some 5000 people turned out at the wedding of Kwon's daughter.)
Categories at del.icio.us/hunjang: family/kin ∙ money ∙ Koreanculture ∙ Koreanpolitics