Dear Korea #089 - Too Giving

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The situation depicted in this comic tends to happen far more often than I’d like to admit. I’ve literally received bruises while trying to fight for the bill at the end of a meal. This is apparently a sign of being a good friend.

While many people back where I come from prefer to go Dutch when it comes to eating out, this method isn’t practiced so much in Korea. It’s not uncommon to see one person (usually the oldest in the group) pay for everyone without asking for anything in return. Of course, this isn’t always the case, and it’s definitely not something that should be expected of anyone. When it does happen, be sure to show appreciation, as being on the receiving end of free food (or anything else) is always awesome.

The funniest incident I can think of goes back to when I was a kid. My mother and I went to eat with a family friend that we had no seen in some time. As expected, when it came time to pay, things got awkward. At first, everything was nice and friendly. There was the typical exchange of “I got this!” and “No, please! Let me!” for a bit before things got serious. After a stare-off, my mom threw a wad of cash on the table, grabbed me, and ran out of the building. Without missing a beat, her friend took the money and came after us, only to be stopped by the door (which my mom had blocked). While her friend tried to get the door open, my mom and I went into the car, trying to start it up as fast as possible so we could get away (I was mostly confused and a little scared the entire time). Just before my mom could drive away, her friend threw the cash on the car’s windshield, ran back into the restaurant, and locked the doors. I think it’s fair to say that my mom lost that one. Thank goodness we knew the owners of that particular establishment, as I’m sure we would have been banned from any other place.

It should be noted that the majority of situations are nowhere near as extreme as the one I just described. I’ve actually managed to find a nice compromise with some of my Korean friends to keep myself from feeling like a scumbag bum. If they pay for dinner, I get coffee and dessert, and we swap the order around from time to time. I have yet to find a method of making things even with the older generations. Here’s hoping those giant gift boxes of Spam and Olive Oil on holidays are enough for now.


Jen Lee's Dear Korea

This is Jen Lee. She likes to draw.
She also likes green tea.

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