A 30-year-old Korean man, identified only as "Park" (which, in Korea, does not narrow it down one bit), has lost his bid to be reimbursed by his ex-girlfriend for the money he spent on their dates. Park sued the woman after she allegedly reneged on a written promise to repay the money.
First of all, according to the report, Park had her sign this a month after she dumped him. Gentlemen, that is not the time to negotiate a contract of this kind, since you have absolutely no bargaining power except for whatever sympathy your constant, explosive weeping fits may generate. (Unless, that is, you did the smart thing and kept some "collateral." You know what I’m talking about.)
Second, the report doesn’t offer any facts showing this was really a contract. If it were a one-sided written promise, it wouldn’t have been enforceable, at least under our system, or at least under my faded understanding of the relevant part of that system. But maybe it was a contract of some kind, because otherwise it’s hard to see why the trial court would have ruled in his favor, which it actually did.
On appeal, though, the Korean high court reversed, finding that the woman had been coerced into signing the promise, which frankly makes a lot more sense. Another report, in the Korea Times, added the freaky detail that Park also made her promise that she would "give up her body" if she did not repay him. That would be creepy enough if it referred to sex, but according to the Times this was "a promise that private moneylenders usually force borrowers to make, threatening [sic] to sell kidneys or other organs if the borrower fails to pay back the money." And you thought Bank of America was unsympathetic.
Apparently, the woman did not testify about the coercion in the trial court, because she did not have an attorney and did not know coercion was a defense. When she learned this, she appealed and managed to get the new evidence before the high court, which ruled against Park, who will not be getting his one million won back.
Luckily, we don’t have these kinds of disputes in the U.S. because we have a statute that covers this.