K-pop mania: How much money are you willing to give?

K-pop mania: How much money are you willing to give?

Imagine saving up thousands to buy a fancy watch.

Then imagine sending it to your favourite K-pop star, who already has more than what you will earn in a lifetime in their bank accounts. Note that despite the gift, you will not get any preferential treatment from said star.

Welcome to the gift-giving sub-culture, particular to Korean pop culture fans. The reason? To thank the stars for working hard.

Hey, I work hard too. Unfortunately the likelihood of me getting brickbats is infinitely higher than me ever getting a car or iPhone for this column. Darn.

This gift-giving culture is enough to make me give serious thought to prancing around in a tiny neon skirt, getting plastic surgery and mewling out some Korean words that can be auto-tuned.

Facetiousness aside, isn't it astounding what star power can motivate people to do? Or potential star power anyway.

I confess to calling up the donation lines during charity shows on free-to-air TV back then. The donation was $10. I did not have $10 to spare as a very poor student then but I was, ahem, impressed with James Lye. Well, at least I think it was James Lye - my memory goes a bit foggy at these things I'd rather forget. It must be at least two decades ago now and I am cringing at ever thinking he was cute.

Speaking of money counters, we're also tackling a sensitive topic this week: Filial piety and whether there is an appropriate price tag to it. In our informal poll of 50 people, 68 per cent said yes, there is an expectation that children should give parents money. So there is obviously an unwritten rule.

Yet it speaks pejorative volumes about both giver and receiver that we need a Tribunal to enforce filial piety. That there are still 300 requests filed for maintenance a year, almost one a day, is sad.

There are complex reasons why familial relationships break down, but the state of the family here may bear watching.

Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob said on Saturday that balancing work and family is the single most daunting challenge many in Singapore face today. And I couldn't agree more. If anything, let this be a call for us to pay attention to our families amid the hustle of our busy lives.

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