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YouTuber sparks dispute as false review leads to restaurant shutdown

Restaurant owner calls for regulations to prevent ‘tyranny’ of YouTubers in public petition

(Capture of YouTuber HayanTree's video)
(Capture of YouTuber HayanTree's video)
YouTuber HayanTree is facing criticism after his review video of a restaurant reportedly forced it to shut down.

HayanTree uploaded the review video of an all-you-can-eat soy sauce-marinated crab restaurant in Daegu on his YouTube channel on Dec. 7. In the video, the YouTuber saw grains of rice in the refilled marinated crab and raised the suspicion that the restaurant might reuse its food.

As the HayanTree channel had about 700,000 subscribers at the time, the review video led to a quick impact on the restaurant, including malicious comments.

After checking the restaurant’s security camera footage, however, it turned out that the grains of rice were leftovers from HayanTree’s previous dish. The YouTuber rushed to try to correct things.

“I went to apologize to the owner of the restaurant for creating the video without thinking about my impact, but the owner did not feel comfortable about filming another video,” said HayanTree in his video posted on Dec. 11. “I should have gone about making the video with accurate facts and I am truly sorry for my ignorance.”

But the damage was already done. The owner of the now-shuttered restaurant wrote a national petition on the Cheong Wa Dae website on Tuesday.

“In less than two to three hours after the YouTuber posted the video, our staff members left the restaurant’s explanation multiple times that we do not reuse our food and we could provide the entire footage from the security camera,” said the owner. “But our comments got blocked so other people could not see them.”

He added that he could not understand why HayanTree let things go viral, as the false review video reached 1 million views.

“When the YouTuber came to film again, we were already shut down,” said the owner. “I am really frustrated and want to know if it is possible to prevent YouTubers’ abuse and tyranny, which is scarier than the coronavirus, and I am petitioning for laws and regulations so that self-employed people can comfortably focus on their business.”

HayanTree’s videos, except for the controversial review of the soy sauce-marinated crab restaurant, are still available on his YouTube channel, but the comment section has been blocked for all of them. The number of subscribers had fallen to under 670,000 as of Thursday.

By Kan Hyeong-woo (hwkan@heraldcorp.com)
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