Korean Father's Day Gift?

Dear Korean,

What do you get your Korean dad for Father’s Day? My Korean dad never lets me know what he needs or wants.


The Korean is convinced that Korean men -- particularly in late 50s or above -- are the hardest people in the world to buy gifts for. In fact, it is somewhat sad when you consider why. Older Korean men, generally speaking, have worked in poverty all their lives. They did not have the money to develop a finer taste on anything, nor did they have the time to cultivate a meaningful hobby. Korea's traditional gift-giving culture be damned -- the very idea of gift-giving can be antithetical to these men, particularly when the gift is being given to them.

Taking after the Korean Father, who epitomizes Korean men in their late 50s, the Korean Family is totally devoid of sentimentality when it comes to gift giving. Prior to every gift-giving occasion, we ask each other what they want. Then we go out and get it. There is no thoughtful process, true, but there is no possibility of error either. It usually works nicely except when it comes to the Korean Father, who would rather not have anything. So, for Father's Day, the routine is for the Korean (and the Korean Brother) to ask the Korean Mother about what the Korean Father needs. (Needs, not wants. He never wants anything.) It usually ends up being some type of clothing, except this year the Korean Father was actually interested in iPad. This was the first time in 20 years when the Korean recalls the Korean Father wanting something for himself.

But there is something that Korean fathers do want -- their children's love and respect. No matter what you end up buying, do not let the material thing to be the substitute for your expression of love and respect. Make sure the gift is accompanied by a heartfelt card that you wrote. Korean fathers may not show their reaction outwardly, but they will surely smile in the inside.

Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at askakorean@gmail.com.