Court Forces Man to Pay Lottery Winnings After Drunk Promise

On October 19th, YTN reported the story of a lottery winner who was forced to pay two hundred million won, (USD $188,600) to his friend thanks to a promise made when they were out drinking. The winner got his money, all ₩1.4 billion (USD $1.3 million) of it, after his friend bought him a lottery ticket on a night out. Before he won the grand prize, Mr. Choi promised his generous friend that he would pay him back with two hundred million won if he won. The unlikely happened and Choi faced the question of whether he would actually pay his friend, Mr. Moon. When Choi refused to pay the full amount, Moon took him to court, where a judge agreed with the plaintiff and compelled Choi to pay the money he promised, whether or not there was a written contract.

Netizens were merciless with Choi, criticizing him for trying to break his promise after he won the grand prize.

Article from YTN:

‘If I win I’ll give you two hundred million’…but do you have to keep such a promise?

Lottery tickets are often given as presents in hopes of getting lucky.

As a joke, friends will often say to each other, “if I win, I’ll give you some!”

But if that dream came true and you won the lottery, would you keep such a spoken promise? Reporter Lee Jong Won finds out the answer to this question.


Mr. Moon was out drinking with his friends when he suddenly decided to buy four lottery tickets.

Moon took the first ticket for himself, then gave the other three away to his friends.

One of the friends, Mr. Choi, thanked his friend and as he took his ticket, saying loudly, “if I win the lottery, I’m giving you two hundred million won, (USD $188,600).”

During that night’s lottery number announcement, Choi’s dream came true.

Choi won first place in the lottery, a prize of ₩1.4 billion, (USD $1.3 million).

While Choi repeated his promise to pay Moon the two hundred million won, in the end, he ended up giving him only ₩80 million, (USD $75,440).

As a result, Moon decided to sue Choi for the remaining 120 million won.

Choi responded that there was never a written agreement and even if there was an expectation of payment, there was never any discussion of a deadline. He refused to pay and decided to take the case to court.

The presiding court ended up siding with Moon. The verdict stated that while there was never a written agreement, the spoken promise can still be considered a “lottery winnings sharing agreement”.

In addition, Moon supported his case by saying he had contributed to the outcome by purchasing the lottery tickets.

The court went on to say that while there was never any agreed deadline for Choi to make the payment, as per standard financial principles, when a creditor asks for payment, the debtor must immediately make payment.

Comments from Daum:


he got greedy as soon as he saw the money, pay up you asshole


He should give seven hundred million won. If it hadn’t been for Moon, Choi never would have won the lottery.


damn, just pay up you jackass


bastard won the grand prize with a free ticket. Looks like he was about to pay up but he got too attached to his money. I remember reading so many positive articles about friends who promised to share lottery winnings when they bought tickets and then actually ended up paying each other tsk tsk but this is different


Choi really seems like an asshole


His thoughts changed as soon as he made some money. It would have been better if he paid two hundred million to each of the three friends and then enjoyed their friendship for the rest of his life.


I hope you end up ruined, you piece of garbage!



I also had the habit of telling my coworker, who was always careful to save his money, that if I won the lottery I would give him 10% without any strings attached… Then a short time after I said that, I won third place in the lottery… I gave him 10% of my winnings after the tax was taken out of it and told him to buy some diapers for his baby…Even if I had won the grand prize I would have given him the 10% and told him to move into a nice house.


Choi is a cheater.. Not only should he have paid the two hundred million to Moon, he should have gone to his house every New Year’s Day thereafter with his children so that he could pay his respects..What do you think you’re getting into the Saenuri Party with that money?


looks like he lost his money and his friends…


If I win the grand prize and Lee Myung Bak is sent to prison then I will have a giant free noodle party in front of Seoul City Hall!!! If I win the lottery and Park Geun-hye leaves office then I will throw a feast for everyone in front of Seoul City Hall…


What is money anyway… you ruined a close friendship


That’s rotten human nature for you, what do they say, ‘how you feel before going to the bathroom and after going to the bathroom is totally different’… but the judge was right to use his common sense…not like some of the crazies who lead courtrooms in other parts of Seoul

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  • Bryan Cheron

    So if you’re drunk and commit a crime, you get a lighter sentence because you supposedly can’t be held responsible for your actions, but if you’re drunk and promise to share gambling winnings you are held full accountable?!

    • chucky3176

      You’re misunderstanding the drunken defense. You have to actually use the defense. He didn’t. He gave $75K to his friend, acknowledging that he did promise the winning. That was his fatal mistake. He should never have given any money, and he should have said “I never promised that”, or “I don’t remember saying that since I was so drunk out of my mind”.

      Having said that, I don’t understand the judge’s ruling. This is not about paying a debt. And the friend who’s demanding the money had no contribution leading to the winning ticket. Did he help picking the numbers? No. Did he buy the ticket for the winning friend? No. All he got was a verbal promise of good will. If it’s a promise of good will was made, in exchange for nothing in return, then it’s just that, a good will that should be up to the lottery winner to fulfill the promise or not.

      • According to the article I think the other guy actually bought 4 tickets and gave one to the winner guy. Therefore he did contribute to the winning

        • David

          yes, Mr. Choi bought the ticket and gave it to his friend as a present.

          • markus peg

            If he gave it away it is no longer his. legally no matter what he said it should be the person he gave the ticket to winning the money. He probably would have shared the money in one way or another but now that he has been taken to court over it i imagine that they are no longer friends.

          • David

            This is true (the giving it away part) but in Korea people like to think of themselves as scrupulously honest. I think most of the netizens are unhappy because Mr. Moon seems to be going back on a verbal promise made. I am not a lawyer (let alone a Korean one) but as far as legality goes, it is whatever the court decides and they have decided it was binding. I have noticed people much prefer what they think is fair as opposed to what they think is legally correct. This undoubtedly influenced the court.

          • jon777

            Afaik, verbal agreements are as legally binding as written ones in most countries. It’s just that it’s harder to prove. Whether or not this counts as an “agreement”, I’m not sure.

        • chucky3176

          Well if that’s the case then it complicates the matters a little more. The defender was still stupid to give his friend 75K, and he should have insisted there was no agreement and this court loss would never have happened. Was the ticket bought and given to the lottery winner in an exchange for the promise of sharing the winnings? Or was the tickets bought and given as strictly as a gift, or as a request from his friend without any conditions attached? In other words, if the lottery didn’t make the promise of sharing the winning, would he still have those tickets? If the answer is yes, then the winner should take it all. If the answer is no, then he should share the winnings.

          But let this be a lesson to everyone here. Never ever never give lottery tickets to someone else as a gift nor buy them for someone else, even as a favor. You never know that those ticket be a winning ticket to an affluent life, and end up kicking your foot for the rest of your life. It will always be on your mind on what could have been, and be in your nightmares.

    • commander

      In determining criminality of an action, drunkenness is an irrelevant element.

      That’s why so many people say drinking alcohol is the problem after making serious mistakes or commiting acts pumishable by law.

  • Rei Yu Tian

    How to know identify true friends.

    1. When you loan them money they pay back without you reminding them
    2. They never even ask you to loan them money

    Money breaks down friendship, and true friends don’t let money get between them.

    Regardless, this guy is not a man, a true man keeps his promise and word, because without it, a man has no virtue.

    • Joey

      He was drunk, and still gave him a decent part of the winnings. Haven’t we all said things when we were drunk that we didn’t actually mean?

      • bigmamat

        Well since the other guy actually purchased the ticket then he could have probably taken him to court for all of it. He just wanted what he was promised.

      • Rei Yu Tian

        I know man, but the guy clearly remembered didn’t he?
        People are mad that he tried to brush off his friend with less than whats promised. Thats bad character there.

    • commander

      Although many people say that money can ruin friendship, should a true friend lend money to his friend in the desperate need if their friendship is real and genuine?

      • Rei Yu Tian

        I have only lend money to 2 of my friends, because I knew that they were the same like myself towards borrowing money from friends. Both paid up early and without being reminded, exactly what I would have done.

        Now, the reason why I hate lending out money to friends. I hate the awkwardness when they don’t pay up and you have to chase them, giving both the lender and borrower a sour taste in the friendship.

        Only lend money that you can afford to do without!

        • commander

          There are two types of case where a friend ask you for some money.

          First, a friend doing business has a liquidity crunch, and have no sufficient credit ratings for a bank loan while his business is deteriorating.

          If the friend request the borrowing ofoney for you, you’d better make a polite refusal as the chances of his paying back are slim.

          Second, there is a time when a friend whose business prospect is promising but get no money from investors inclysibg a bank, want to ask you of some money.

          In which case, you’s better mull over whether to lend money to him nor as a friend but as an investor.

          Lending money as an investor means you have to make a thoroughexamination of his business plan.

          If you think that is lucrative one enough for him to repay the borrowedmoney, you can take the plunge.

          Above cases are all ones where asked amount of money is huge.

          If the requested money is small, you can willingly lend your friend some money to figre out what your friend is like in personality.

  • Jang

    Nonsensical ruling! How can a Korean Judge make a ruling like this, Koreans change their minds everyday. It’s Korean culture! Of course a people should keep his promises but you can’t make it law. This decision should be appealed and if it is the appeals court will overturn the decision.

    • tomoe723

      none of that drunken circumstance would hold water in any judicial court as far as i know. maybe the judge expected a portion out of mr. moon after the ruling… XD

    • commander

      The crucial rationale behind the court’s verdict lies not in the drunken promise but in the protection of legitimate expectations by the buyer for his friend’s uttered promise.

      If the winner was not drunken enough to not make reasonable judgement, his promise created legitimate expectations for the buyer and the winner should act in accordance with his promise in a bona fide way.

      • tomoe723

        a public court has no personal jurisdiction over circumstances like these. whatever the intents of the judge, that ruling is without solid (written) proof. and without such proof, a statutes of fraud can be invoked by the lottery winner to protect his winnings.

        however, in the end, i think both parties lost their friends. when the buyer decided to sue his friend over the winnings, don’t you think that the buyer’s friends will think twice too about this type of friend who sues other friends over such matters? i certainly don’t want a friend suing me.

        • jon777

          As far as I understand he admitted to promising him 200k or there was evidence that he said that. Verbal agreements are usually as legally binding as written ones, if there’s proof.

          • tomoe723

            true, verbal agreements are as legally binding as written ones, but proving them is another thing in court. the only proof i could think of that probably won the ruling is if the buyer still had the receipt for the winning ticket. other than that, without any proof, verbal agreements don’t hold any water in court.

  • commander

    If Choi had paid the promised amount of money to his friend who bought hime a lottery ticket, he would have kept his honor among his friends as well as savored the joy of the windfall.

    By breaching his vow, he is reduced to an untrustworthy person, losing all other friends he drunk with on the day he got the ticket. What a shame.

    Even if he doesnt proclaim to give some of the winning prize to his friend, he should hand over some money to his friend who brings luck into Choi’s hands.

    • commander

      If Mr. Moon has no eyewitness for Choi’s promise saying that some of the winning prize will go to Moon, Choi would defintinely swallow all the prize money.

  • commander

    The ripple effects from this attention-catching news are: Agrowing number of people will refrain from declaring to share the prize money to his or her friends; A declining number of people will buy friends lottery tickets for half fun or half testing their luck.

  • TruthKorea

    only country in the world where such verdict can be allowed to pass because korean court system is not even truly korean, it’s the product of being overrun by almost every country surrounding it and from across the Pacific ocean, and as a result Korean law is actually a clusterfuck of Japanese, Chinese, American laws…imagine that Koreans are so proud of their country yet the law is not even written by Koreans.

    • Bryan Cheron

      How is any of that relevant?

    • commander

      Dont you think using the lotterty winning prize case to determine the nature of South Korea’s law system has gone too far?

  • Alice Pan


  • lonetrey / Dan

    I’m on the purchaser’s side. The very fact that he bought the winning ticket (the one out of four that he got), even if he did give it to a “friend”, I feel like that makes him eligible for the money. The promise to pay him is just the cherry on top.

    To me, this ruling feels like it was fair.

  • markus peg

    Morally he is obliged to give the amount he said BUT lawfully?
    I would not class a few drunken words to be held accountable in court especial without hard evidence of said words!

    • commander

      The article states that the buyer gave away tickets to three friends, including the future prize winner.

      That means the other two can testify the declared promise by the winner on the drunken night.

      Otherwise, in a court hearing the winner may admit to having made the promise in the belief that oral promise does not consitute legally binding obligation so that he can take all the money.

  • Pingback: Court Rules That A Drunken Verbal Promise Has Legal Standing In Korea | ROK Drop()

  • haohao

    Is this a promise promise, or like a joke promise? He still has a ton of money after paying his friend… but then again a verbal contract isn’t much of a contract

  • Mighty曹

    What an ungrateful dick. He should’ve shared it 50/50.

  • Anonymous_Joe

    I’m stunned by all these commentators writing about the binding legality of oral promises in Korea. I, and I am not alone, have observed that written contracts are not binding in Korea. By written contracts, I mean with full offer, acceptance, intention to create legally binding contracts, and consideration.

    My best guess is that the judge (likely surnamed Mun) ruled for petitioner Mun against defendant Choi for some other inscrutable reason.

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