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Cafe at Gyeongbokgung under fire for inappropriate comment on social media

(Saenggwabang’s Instagram)
(Saenggwabang’s Instagram)

Saenggwabang cafe, located inside the grounds of the main palace Gyeongbokgung, has become embroiled in controversy for an inappropriate comment against complaints directed to the cafe on its official social media account.

On Tuesday, a comment on a post updated by the cafe’s social media account said, “I hope the cafe will be more cautious about sanitation and hygiene. The folding dining table was sticky, and there was something on the tea kettle. It was a mess.”

“I visited the cafe with high hopes but came out with a pall of disappointment. And above all, I hope to see an improvement in customer service,” the account added.

In response to the complaint, the cafe’s social media account replied, “We will maintain a stricter adherence to sanitation. We are deeply sorry for upsetting you while you have taken the time to visit here.”

“We will heed your advice and carefully educate our staff,” it added.

However, another comment written by the cafe’s account said, “So many people are trying to ‘gapjil’ as if they are at a luxurious hotel restaurant.” Gapjil refers to bullying and sometimes violence used against someone in a weaker position

“I don’t think the staff should be criticized for visitors lining up in the crowded queue. I guess this is the reason why people empathize with the term ‘ugly Korean,’” the comment said, referring to negative perceptions of Koreans traveling abroad. “I hope the staffers are doing well in the heat.”

The comment was deleted a few minutes later.

The Korea Cultural Heritage Foundation, in charge of operating the cafe, released an apology Wednesday on behalf of the cafe.

“We thoroughly looked into nine staff members -- three employees under the CHF and six of the cafe’s operating agency -- who had access to the official Instagram account, but it remains unclear who wrote the comments,” the apology said.

“We apologize for the obnoxious behavior. We will continue to check on the case and disclose all the information we can,” it added.

Saenggwabang closed its doors Wednesday for a summer break. It will welcome visitors again starting in September.

By Park Jun-hee (junheee@heraldcorp.com)
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