Thursday, March 12, 2009

Dear Kushibo

Ah, what's in today's mail bag?

Dear Kushibo,

I'm the head of a small bank in Newport Beach that has many Korean immigrants among its customers. Occasionally, intoxicated men in their fifties or older (I believe the lingo is "ajeossi") come to our branch and try to submit documents written in blood. 

Not wishing to appear culturally insensitive, I would like to accept these folksy documents, but I don't wish to put the bank at unnecessary risk, especially in these difficult economic times. 

So my question is this: Are documents written by drunken ajeossi in their own blood legally binding in California courts? If not, how about South Korean courts? 

I look forward to your reply. We have a handsome pen set with the bank's logo, plus a $50 Olive Garden gift card with your name on it if you can answer this satisfactorily.

Bilked(?) in Balboa


Dear Bilked,

It's funny you should ask that. Why just this past Monday, the Fourth District Court of Appeal in Santa Ana upheld a ruling by the Orange County Superior Court that a contract written in blood by the drunken customer of a sushi bar in Garden Grove, home of OC's Koreatown, was "unenforceable." And that makes Stephen Son, whose safety pin-pricked finger had done the writing, very happy. 

But Jinsoo Kim, the guy who lent Son $170,000 for his children's clothing business that later failed, is not at all a happy camper. And that, Bilked, would be you if you accepted such things. 

Frankly, I wouldn't even call this traditional. People with means have a "stamp" or "chop," called a tojang (도장) in Korean, that is used in place of a signature, while traditionally a tojang-less person would simply put their thumb in the same oil-based red ink where the tojang would go and use their unique thumbprint instead. 

A contract written in blood, while very dramatic, is of no special consequence. And just what the hell are you doing accepting contracts of any kind by inebriated people? It's no wonder you banks have turned our economy into a giant cluster-screw. (But I do give you kudos for trying to be culturally sensitive; you could have simply yelled, "Hey, you ethnics! Get off my lawn!" and have been done with it.)


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