“Is it tacky to write in Korean?”… Current status of the ‘Controversial English Menu’

Previously, cafes using English menus were controversial in various media reports and online communities in May. When asked on the 25th, “Is there a particular reason for using the English menu?”, most of the staff at the cafe agreed, “Because it is a ‘concept’.” When asked, “Are there many customers who asked for an explanation of the menu in Korean?”, he replied, “Very many.”At the ‘ C ‘ coffee shop in a large department store in Yeouido, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul, a customer waiting for an order hesitated and then carefully asked an employee to explain the menu. This is a place that went viral on social media as a ‘hip’ cafe, but without any explanation in Korean, rice powder was labeled as ‘ MSGR ‘ and orange juice as ‘ Range.O ‘, causing confusion among customers. The staff laughed bitterly about the menus, saying, “I hear a lot from customers saying, ‘What the hell is this menu?’”.Even at the ‘ C ‘ bakery specialty store in the department store, all menus were written in English only. The letters were all written in cursive, so customers responded that it was “difficult to grasp the exact menu name.” It also happened that you had to infer the taste and type by looking at the appearance of the dessert. A couple of 먹튀검증guests visited to buy desserts and drinks, and she was also caught waving her hands and returning, saying, “It’s all English.” Previously online, this place was known to have written explanations related to the ‘1 person 1 menu’ in Korean only at the bottom of the drink menu board, and was pointed out, “Is it really only important information written in Korean? “

A similar atmosphere was created in Samcheong-dong, Jongno-gu. The ‘ L ‘ bagel specialty store, which says you have to wait for an average of 3 hours and 30 minutes to 4 hours to taste it , is a place that has been controversial for installing a ‘ Tip ‘ box on the counter a while ago . There was no tip box at the cash register that day. However, all menu descriptions related to bagels were written in cursive English, and even the cafe staff recruitment notices on the exterior walls, including the interior of the shop with an exotic concept, were written in English without any explanation in Korean. However, the citizens I met here responded that “the purpose of coming here is to buy ‘famous bagels’, so the English is not too bothersome.” A university student standing in a waiting line said, “If you don’t know, you can ask the staff, so I don’t think it’s going to be that much of a problem.” A group of office workers who went out after purchasing bagels also said, “Even if you use the English menu, you don’t feel rejected if the cafe atmosphere is hip and good.”

You can find Korean in the store, but there are not a few places that put English menus first. The coffee menu and Coffee Goods ( MD ) products at the ‘ㅅ’ coffee shop were all written in English, and the Korean explanation was written in small letters only on the cashier side. At the nearby ‘ㅋ’ bakery specialty store, all bakery menus were written in cursive only in English, and only the drink menu at the cashier had small Korean letters next to the English letters.

One citizen said in a review of his visit, “I feel like ‘if you can’t read English like this, you don’t deserve to eat,’ and I feel like ‘I won’t accept people who don’t know English.’ If you write in Korean, don’t you feel it’s tacky?”

Because of this, there is an atmosphere where the Hangeul signs put up in nearby Insa-dong are being re-evaluated. Ahn (46), a citizen, said, “It is much prettier and nicer than writing only English. Alan Do (30), who came from the United States, also pointed out, “If you see a lot of Hangeul on the street, you definitely feel like you’ve come to Korea.” Michael (28), who was next to him, also commented, “The places in Korean are more noticeable and attractive than the places where English is rampant.”

However, under the current law, it is not illegal even if menu boards such as cafes do not have Korean markings. According to the Outdoor Advertisements Act, in principle, advertisements must be displayed in Korean according to the Korean spelling, Romanization of Korean language, and foreign language transcription, and if written in a foreign language, they must be written in Korean. In case of violation, a fine of up to 5 million won may be imposed. However, there is no way to legally regulate menu boards that are provided only to guests inside restaurants, etc., as they do not fall under outdoor advertisements.

Accordingly, on the 16th of last month, Congressman Jo Myung-hee Cho proposed an amendment to the Basic Korean Language Act to provide information boards and menus in Korean at public facilities such as cafes and restaurants. It is pointed out that menus written only in English have a negative impact on the formation of Korean language culture due to the indiscriminate use of foreign languages ​​in everyday life. Rep. Cho said, “We will promote the spread of Korean language culture and public convenience by encouraging the preparation of information boards or menus in Korean.”






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