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Korean Businesses Reconcile with Korean International Students, Overcoming Cultural Differences
보스톤코리아  2012-01-09, 15:15:40   
By HyunCheon Kim
Translated SeungYeon Woo


As Korean international students regularly patronize Korean businesses, the businesses started to serve those students with more generosity. Despite the fact that there was an issue about Korean international students’ giving insufficient tips to servers 3~4 years ago in Allston, reconciliation between Korean businesses and students has been made by overcoming the cultural differences.

One of the businessmen, B., still remembers the battle between students and businesses some years ago that was caused by not only the tip problem but also the service and sanitation problem. B. said, “Most students these days have a good understanding of tipping. I think some students who just arrived in the U.S. can make some mistakes about giving a tip because they are not used to this kind of culture; however, I don’t believe that they are giving insufficient tips purposely.”

In order to eliminate the issue of tipping, B. decided to specify the information about tipping on menu boards. The result was satisfactory. Most businessmen in Boston think that “there is always some minority with an unusual attitude,” and they believe that most of students should not be considered wrong just because of the unusual minority. The businessmen realized that they have to embrace students, considering the fact that many of their customers are Korean students. They also said, “It depends on their personality, not the fact that they are international students. As soon as we understand each other’s cultural difference, the problem will decrease.”

However, the employees’ situation was quite different than the owners. Since their daily wage depends on their tip, they honestly said that they serve more graciously to customers who pay a higher tip. The employees even compete amongst themselves over who gets to serve more white customers.

M., with 10 years of experience as a waitress said, “Most Americans are very generous tippers. They pay about 15% for lunch and about 18% for dinner. Sometimes they even pay more than that.” She also revealed that waiters and waitresses are “on the alert” for Asians, since they tip either nothing or less than 15%. Moreover, there was one case in which a group of customers exited in a hurry without paying any tip. Employees are unpleasant to the Koreans they serve not only because of the low tips they leave, but also because of their etiquette.

Another waitress, R., said, “Some Korean Students always want not only to be treated like king, but they gave rarely ­complement to us.” There are some customers who even try to control the recipe. They request that MSG be omitted, or the level of spiciness or saltiness be changed.

The owner of a restaurant, Y., said, “The basis of business ethics is to satisfy the customer’s demand. Since most of the customers are Korean international students, I hoped the employees treat them with some sort of Korean sentiment. If the customers like the service of a restaurant, then they will visit often. This will make both the owner and employees pleased.” Y. and other businessmen are in a poor situation where more Korean restaurants have been established in Allston within the last few years and competition has become fiercer in the economic recession. Lastly, Y. said. “Before we wish the customers’ attitude and etiquette to be improved, we first have to put more effort to provide the best menu, service and sanitation.

ⓒ 보스톤코리아(http://www.bostonkorea.com), 무단전재 및 재배포 금지
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