A Twitter post that shows a photo of a tip jar in a South Korean cafe has started an online debate. Korean tweeps are discussing the possible spread of tipping culture in the country.
"A type of culture we don't want to have in Korea: tipping," tweep @beanpicker posted on July 9, with the photo of a glass jar labeled ‘Tip Box’.
The jar was filled with South Korean currency.
The Twitter user clarified in a follow-up post that in her understanding, tipping in Korean culture is an unnecessary practice, because the intention behind employees being able to earn tips is that the employer does not have to pay according to minimum wage laws.
The Twitter thread rapidly gained traction, with 4.4 million views by July 12.
Many expressed a negative sentiment toward the idea of tipping in Korea.
Some online users defended the cafe's decision, which claimed that the tip box was installed in response to frequent inquiries from foreign customers seeking guidance on where to leave their tips.
According to the South Korean news website, Korea Herald, it is currently against the law in South Korea to request any form of service charge from customers, apart from the price of the food.
According to the Food Sanitation Act of South Korea, the price of food displayed on the menu should include both value-added tax and service charges.
Although Korea generally lacks a tipping culture, some restaurants or cafes occasionally display requests for tips on their menu boards or information boards, labeling it as a 'service charge’, reported the South Korean entertainment website allkpop.com.
A similar controversy arose last year when a photo featuring a tip guideline from a meat restaurant went viral on an online community, the article added.
The guideline suggested: "If the serving staff provided excellent service, consider tipping a minimum of around 5,000 KRW (Dh15) per table (per group)."
Even during that time, the prevailing sentiment was one of skepticism, the report added.