My brother's Korean father-in-law passed away. I would like to give money but I am not sure how much. Could you please advise me on how much is customary or appropriate to give?
A lot of people now know that it is customary for Koreans to simply give money as gifts in major events, such as a wedding or a funeral. So the natural follow-up question is: how much money is appropriate?
|Standard envelop format |
for Korean funeral
The Chinese Relative inadvertently stumbled onto a question that stumps a lot of Koreans as well. The appropriate amount is not set in stone, nor is it self-evident. Instead, it takes an awkward process to glean the appropriate amount, as if one is trying to figure out the appropriate gift from the wedding registry. (You don't want to be known as the person who give the newlyweds a single towel now, do you?) It is art, not science.
The appropriate amount will depend on a number of factors, such as:
- How close are you to the people involved? Are you family? Distant relative? Close friend? Work colleague?
- Do you "owe" the people involved in some way? (Namely, did they or their family previously contribute to your event?)
- How wealthy are you? Are you significantly wealthier than everyone else at the event? Significantly less well-off?
- Are you actually attending the event? How many people are in your party?
Having these factors in mind, the best thing to do is to discreetly ask people who are in the similar situation as you are. For those who are completely at a loss: if the event is in Korea, the bare minimum is between KRW 30,000 to 50,000. You are good for the bare minimum if you are: (a) pretty far in relation to the people involved (e.g., your boss's child, whom you do not personally know); (b) a student or otherwise in a position that does not earn much money, and/or; (c) not attending the event.
But again, the acceptable range can be huge. By way of example, for the Korean's own wedding in the U.S., which had mostly middle-to-upper-middle class family and guests, the cash gift ranged from $100 (mostly from friends) to $1,000 (close relatives and family). Best of luck.
Got a question or comment for the Korean? Email away at firstname.lastname@example.org.