Differentiating a gift from a bribe is not always easy. Size, reason, motive are important in determining whether we are dealing with a gift or bribe. At times it may be a mixture of the two for we are all imperfect human beings.
A gift is something of value given without any expectation of return while a bribe is given with the hope of a future benefit. We can see, in many cases, how easy it is to blur the difference. Gifts are open to a wrong impression and a very innocent gesture can be interpreted as an attempt to win influence with the receiver of the gift
Korea last year passed the 'anti-graft act' which puts a limit on the value of gifts, meals, and congratulatory and condolence money for public officials, journalists, and teachers.They are forbidden to accept meals worth more than 30,000 won about 27 dollars. This is only one of the possible situations where the law may be broken.
In Korea, gift-giving is an important part of the culture and where the oldest person often pays for the meal, the conflict of interest situation is often present and makes many uncomfortable.
A writer for the Catholic Peace Weekly reminds the readers of the present situation in sections of Seoul where stores have closed because of the efforts to eradicate graft and bribery in society. This will also impact the farmers whose products will not find the way to the market.
Often to cure we cause pain. Overcoming problems in society require steps that will hurt but are considered necessary to bring justice and a level playing field. Bribery in Korea was part of the way business was done and a desire to put an end to this type of corruption has been present for many years and finally, a law was enacted but the adverse effects of the law have begun to show.
Last year with the implementation of the anti-graft law we have a slow down in many areas. Flower shops, farmers, restaurants see a drop in income because of the law.
The government does see the results are not helpful for the economy and we will probably see an increase in the money that may be spent for gifts and the price of meals, and gifts allowed to be given to public officials increased. However, the intention of the law was good but we need more than the external use of law to influence society and more the integrity of the person and a desire for virtuous living.
We all know that gifts should be gifts. We talk a lot about unconditional love, and similarly, gifts that are truly gifts are without strings attached: unconditional. Our educational programs should be interested in educating the virtuous man whose internal barometer can quickly distinguish between what is a gift and what is a bribe. Laws are necessary but so is an education in virtue.