Koreans Up in Arms Over Racist Starbucks

News is abuzz in the Korean language and 교포 blogosphere about evil racist American Starbucks.  The franchise, which is waning in the USA, is still super popular in Korea due to it’s local perception as a means by which one can temporarily raise their social status.  Not so much in the States though, where  apparently, Starbucks hates Koreans.

It all went down when two Korean customers went into a Starbucks in Georgia and ordered two drinks.  Instead of writing the customer’s name on the cups, as is customary, the clerk simply drew what appear to be “chinky eyes” on the cup, a derogatory action intended to insult the Korean customers.  The photo below is now going viral on Korean coffee sites, and it may be only a matter of time before Korean newspapers pick up on it.

Racist Starbucks Hates Koreans!


Will this teach Koreans how stupid it is to blindly worship name brands?  Probably not.  Will this spell the end of Starbucks in Korea?  Not likely.  I’d be willing to bet that Marc Jacobs could piss all over the Korean flag and still sell Louis Vuitton handbags all day long up and down the peninsula.  Since the Starbucks brand (much like Louis Vuitton or Chanel) is essentially a vehicle by which Koreans display their buying power or “prestige“, it’s going to be very hard for such incidents to affect their overall business in Korea.  After all, there aren’t many other famous, expensive foreign brands of coffee to flock to.

The victim apparently complained to the manager, who apologized and offered a gift certificate, which obviously ain’t going to appease the Asian-American public who are now out for blood – and rightfully so.  If a black person ordered a cup of coffee at Starbucks, and the clerk drew a monkey on the cup, I’d imagine that an apology and gift certificate probably wouldn’t suffice either.  No word on whether or not the errant employee has been extradited to Korea yet, but hopefully the jackass was at least fired.  It’s a shame the victim didn’t get a picture of the clerk’s face.

Main question is:  Will Koreans be able to separate the actions of one employee from the company as a whole?  Some ajumma online Naver cafes have already pledged to boycott all Starbucks products, unless of course they are offered free coffee for life.

More here:  Starbucks Hates Koreans

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24 Responses to Koreans Up in Arms Over Racist Starbucks

  1. mike c says:

    Hilarious, since Koreans are probably THE most racist people on earth!

    • unknownx says:

      Of course….and everyone else on the planet are not. Good job on the generalizations.

    • kal says:

      Poor Koreans are educated in thier schools to hate other nations such as Japan (for Annexation of Korea by Japan, 1910-1945), China (for under domination of China for 1000 yrs) , US (for civil war in 1950′s) and so on. They want to believe that Koreans are superior to others,while they have alomost nothing proud of especially in terms of their history. Thus, they think the gap between their fantasy and their real history is brought by these countries listed above.
      They look down Black people most, because Koreans simply think that countries of Black people are less succesful compared to countries of others. The following sites tell you something very interesting.


      Koreans respect Black people only when they are really succesful and rich.

      Many Koreans do the same, but not all. I have some good friends from Korea, who are doing great because they are the top 10% people of Korea, who know the real world. They are not racists at all in nature. Their education sytem has problems to be solved so that they respect others.

  2. Chris says:

    I love how they finished the drinks.

  3. waeg says:

    where’s the like button?

  4. sure is! says:

    agree with ya mike!

  5. Sombat says:

    I have already begun to encounter people mentioning this to me, but luckily I have developed a good countermeasure:

    A: Did you hear what happened at Starbucks in the USA?

    Sombat: Oh I think so. That is where the Korean owner told the black customer “Go back to Africa” right?


    For safety sake, these two articles should be produced together. I would personally like to encourage those deciding to boycott Starbucks and recommend that they begin boycotting gas stations too.

    • Big Easy says:

      I am having difficulties understanding your remarks..

      I believe the owner’s telling the customer to go back to Africa was a response to the customer’s initial racist remark.

      On the other hand, the Starbucks drawing was not a response to any statements or actions. I guess these two cases would be similar only if the barista at Georgia Starbucks was an African American and the korean customers drew a monkey somewhere as a response.

      The only similarity between these two cases is that the Korean person encountered racist statements. Raising gas prices has nothing to do with racism – it’s business.

  6. Via Korea says:

    If the barista were really clever, he/she would have drawn just one slant on each cup and then placed both cups together at the right angle.

  7. johnhenry says:

    Will this show Koreans how wrong racism by anyone is? Will Koreans in Korea finally realize that the racism in Korea is bad?

    Of course not.

  8. Jason says:

    Heh. I’m a Korean-American Starbucks barista. I work in a neighborhood that is predominately hispanic/black. Do I retaliate?

  9. theaudience says:

    Main Question is: Will expats be able to separate the action of one Korean from the country as a whole? Some whiny expat sites have already pledged to boycott all Korean products, unless of course they are offered free Kimchi for life. :)

  10. I have seen this RUMOR on a number of websites, but no one seems to have asked the manager of the specific store where this is alleged to have happened. Having lived in Korea for many years, I am familiar with the speed with which rumors are circulated in the society.

    As a former journalist, I find bloggers irresponsible and incompetent when they do not take the time to check their sources (in this case, an “Angry Asian Man” blogger who wasn’t there and doesn’t appear to have talked to anyone directly involved, including the alleged victims).

    Sloppy work all around.

    • The Expat says:

      This was published in the Korea Times yesterday, six days after I posted it here. Talk about sloppy journalism. They probably used my blog as their primary “source”. Maybe you worked for the Korea Times?

  11. Song G says:

    Korean born living in the US, I get that chinky eyes thing in person sometimes, but I don’t really get offensive at all thou. :p I’m like ‘so what?, this is how I look like’ just saying. oh btw I posted this url on my fb, is that ok? If not, I will delete it.

  12. Migrant Wanker says:

    There is a big difference between what allegedly happened and your hypothetical. Blacks are not monkees, but Asians do have Asian eyes of a particular shape.

    • Bill says:

      Yes, it’s true that black people are not monkeys, just like not all Asian people have “chinky” eyes. There are actually a lot of Asians that have eyes with natural double eyelids and very similar to those seen on Caucasians.

      There are some black people that look like monkeys. There are some Asian people with very small slanted eyes. But the fact of the matter is, the person who drew that on the coffee cup was racially objectifying paying customers, which is very offensive.

      • slightly logical says:

        but obviously no Asian people look like monkeys, and no black people have small slanted eyes……right

  13. lisa says:

    Starbucks employees are so ignorant. They should learn to draw Gangnam nose and Japanese anime big eyes, because that’s how Koreans actually look like!

  14. Pingback: Racist barista at Starbucks Paris | "Buy the Way…" Insights on Integrated Marketing Communication

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