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Saturday, January 5, 2013

Presenting A Gift in Japan, China, and Korea: Cultural Differences

The best part of being in a class from different cultures is the simple fact that everyday I can learn and come to realize trivial cultural traits from other countries. Today, I learned something about what the Japanese do when they give a sum of money to the bride and bridegroom in their wedding.

In Japan
Giving a sum of money sealed in an envelope to a newly married couple is a cultural thing in (I think) most cultures. But, what I learned from my Japanese friends is somewhat unique. It turned out that the amount of money inserted into the envelope should be in the odd number. So, one can give like 1,000 Yen, 3,000 Yen, 30,000 Yen; 5,000 Yen or 50,000 Yen (for instance). They must not give the amount of (say) 2,000 Yen; 40,000 Yen, or something like that. The meaning is simple, the even number of money implies the breakable union so that one should not/must not give an even sum of money to a couple in their wedding.  Hmmm interesting.

How about Korea?
From what I learned from the class, Koreans do not recognize the taboo that Japanese do in relation to the amount of money, be it odd or even would not matter. However, Koreans usually put 30,000 Won; 50,000 Won; or better yet...100,000 Won.
You want to know the meaning? (warning: it is just a 농담 or jokes among friends)
30,000 Won = 더 이상 만날 필요가 없는 관계 ' Since I don't think I'd meet the couple again, I might as well give this amount of money.'
50,000 Won = 이 친국가 괜잖은 친구로서 ...이정도는 괜찮다 'Well, this friend is a nice friend of mine, so I'd might as well give him this much'
100,000 Won = 와....아주 아주 진한 친구다. 제가 이정도를 꼭 줄거지. ' Wow...this is my best friend (ever), he/she deserves it.'

How about in China?
Well, although they do not know the odd and even number kind of stuff, there is one particularly interesting point to note here. One must  / never give a pair of shoes or a wall clock to the couple or to any person. Well it does have a meaning. Giving shoes implies that the giver wants the receiver to go away from his sight. While, giving a wall (mounted) clock means that the giver wish the receiver to die away soon. ^.^. As I asked how the logical explanation of such belief, it has something to do with the Hanca (Chinese characters) pronunciation as well as the symbol for the word 'clock' that resembles the sound of  the word in Chinese that means 'death' :) hmmm..how peculiarly intriguing that is. !!!

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