Discrimination Editor's Picks National

Korean-only-bar in Itaewon clueless about racism

Itaewon racism
Signs at the Itaewon Pojangmacha bar in Itaewon, Seoul Photo by Lee Tae-hoon
Lee Tae-hoon
Written by Lee Tae-hoon
Ever since Jang Young-hoon opened his bar with his Uzbek wife in the foreign-friendly district Itaewon in Seoul, he has always had a sign that reads “Only Korean Bar.” This has never been an issue. At least until now. Jang has run the Itaewon Pojangmacha bar in the special tourist zone for six years.

Jang

Jang Young-hoon, the owner of Itaewon Pojangmacha bar, points to a racist sign that he posted about four-years ago. He had another sign with the same message before. Photo by Lee Tae-hoon

When asked about the paradox of putting up a Trusted Store logo, which was issued in October last year by the Itaewon Tourism Association and Seoul Tourism Association (STA), the bar owner said he is willing to take it down as it doesn’t help his business much.

In a series of interviews with The Korea Observer this week, Jang maintained that he cannot see why anyone should take issue with his decision to ban foreign customers since it is his business and there is no such thing as discrimination law in Korea.

“We don’t accept foreigners as we cannot provide satisfactory service to them,” the owner of Itaewon Pojangmacha said.

“We don’t have staff who can speak English and all of our dishes are very spicy and expensive. I don’t want foreigners to be disappointed with our service.”

pojangmacha

Itaewon Pojangmacha is located above Foreign Restaurant, which is open to all customers, near ‘Hooker Hill’ in Itaewon

Pojangmacha refers to a small tented restaurant on wheels or street stalls that sell soju and street foods. His bar is not a tented one and is located on the third floor of a large building.

Jang, 48, claimed that he has no choice but to refuse male foreigners to maintain his business because they often order drinks without buying any dishes and demand to sit at larger tables, especially the ones closer to female customers.

Jang said that customers should respect his decision as he has a lot more to lose than gain by having foreign customers in his bar. In Jang’s opinion foreigners tend to be loud, spend less, and hit on female customers.

“Even if a complaint is filed against me with the Human Rights Commission, I will repeat what I have just said,” he said.

“I have to prevent customers from hitting on female customers. When foreigners say ‘fuck you,’ our staff members get emotionally hurt and customers, especially women, feel uncomfortable.“

itaewon-bar

Itaewon Pojangmacha bar

Jang added that he doesn’t welcome foreign customers as some of them have the attitude they are superior to Koreans and refuse to speak Korean when he tries to explain the bar’s rules .

He also noted he would like to avoid customers who would drop by to his bar after visiting brothels at “Hooker Hill,” which is located next to the bar.

“Koreans who seek prostitution are unlikely to come here as they are not welcome on Hooker Hill,” Jang said.

“We don’t want to have customers who can potentially cause big trouble here.”

jang-young-hoon

Jang Young-hoon, owner of Itaewon Pojangmacha

He stressed that he has no personal feelings against foreigners and is more than willing to have foreigners when they come with a Korean who can properly explain the rules of the bar.

“My wife is a foreigner and I have nothing against foreigners,” he said, noting that he was surprised to find out people suddenly began to pay attention to the Only Korean Bar sign that has always been on the main door of the restaurant.

“If I had money, I would really like to hire bouncers.”

Jang underlined that he started his business in Itaewon simply because his foreign wife wanted to live in the foreigner-friendly town and allow their children to attend school there.

Lee Sang-jun, an official at the STA, offered an apology over the selection of Itaewon Pojangmacha as a trusted store, adding that his organ
ization will launch an investigation into the matter.

An official at the Itaewon Special Tourism Zone Association noted that it was inappropriate to have Jang’s bar as a member since the goal of the association is attracting more foreigners to Itaewon, rather than drive them away.

Jang said he is ignorant about discrimination issues but is willing to listen to suggestions, including taking down the Trusted Store logo and even changing the Korean-Only sign.

He may also accept foreigners as customers if they can agree to follow the rules of the bar, though he would be wary for potential problems.

The article was edited by Michael Griffin

Please leave your comments and suggestions for Jang. 

About the author

Lee Tae-hoon

Lee Tae-hoon

Lee Tae-hoon is publisher at The Korea Observer. He previously worked for the Korea Times and Arirang TV. You can reach him at lee@koreaobserver.com.

  • David Mwangi

    The dishes are so expensive that foreigners cannot afford them, is that what the owner means?? Korea needs to consider coming up with a registration on this once and for all.

    • Guest

      Soer

    • Balancer

      Dude sorry to hijack your comment. Do you know there are lots of “foreigner only” bars in Korea ? Actually foreigner only bars outnumber “korean only” bars.

      Korean observer guy “Lee Tae-hoon” is a attention whore/yellow journalist. If he got a ounce of dignity as a reporter, he would write balanced piece.

      edit : I am not saying what bar owners are doing is right or two wrong doing is making it right. I am pointing out this “report” is shameless yellow journalism.

      • chris

        name 5 foreigner only bars!

        • JMS

          Go to Osan or Kunsan Air Base areas and you will see way more than 5 at each location.

      • Daniel T. Callahan

        Honestly the article title is stupid but the article doesn’t really portray him as a racist – his logic is pretty sound. His staff don’t speak english and they don’t have a menu that is appropriate to foreign stomachs but is willing to serve people who speak korean that he can actually provide decent service too without issue. I think it may be the editor that sets titles so prob blame that person for clickbait.

        • davebarbarian24

          I started to buy his argument.. Then I read these two pieces, when joined together make you say “wtf?”

          “We don’t have staff who can speak English…When foreigners say ‘fuck you,’ our staff members get emotionally hurt”

        • Stefanie

          By this logic, every other bar/restaurant can become “Korean people” (한국인) only bars/restaurants.

          Also, I want to point out his sign says “한국인”, Korean people not the language. I can ONE HUNDRED PERCENT understand if the sign said “한국어” but that isn’t what he put on the sign. It specifically discriminates against people, not abilities. He knows he is in a hole and is trying to dig himself out of it.

      • Bwapiwo

        Not true. There are no “Foreigners Only” bars in Korea. That’s a lie. There are bars that attract more expat workers either because the owner is a foreigner or because they have activities that the expats like (open mics, stand-up comedy, trivia, etc.) Even so, those places never reject Koreans who want to join in and enjoy the party. I am a musician, and I go to a lot of bars where the expat community meet. I always see Koreans at those places, and they’re always welcome. We play together, dance together, drink together, etc. So, unless you can provide us with the names and the locations of your so-called foreigner-only bars, we’ll just call you a pathetic liar.

    • Daniel T. Callahan

      I think what he means is that they are expensive and very spicy and that many foreigners aren’t really into that spicy food so they’d be angry that they spent a lot of money on a dish they couldn’t even eat and probably complain/demand a refund. Pretty obvious man, use that critical thinking.

      • John Walsh

        Is he a mind reader? Last I checked, the household income of an American is about 2x of a Seoul family.

        • Matt Creese

          The household income of ‘an’ American? That doesn’t even make any sense.

        • Thomas Kelly

          Double? What a dumb hick. You’re probably one of them hicks that thinks they are one of the people that makes the United States great and actually contribute in making in great but is just a dumb uneducated hick working a menial blue collar job screaming “Stars and bars” when they are not even a part of the greatness. Only these types always scream “U.S. is the best!”

          Ignorant fool.

          • John Walsh

            OECD Better Life Index

            The average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita is USD 41 355 a year for USA. For Korea, the average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita is USD 19,510 a year, in Korea. Works out to 2.1x.

            Yeah, I’m uneducated, but with the facts. Stand by my comment to Mr. Daniel T. Callahan. Alumni of Ivy League, US Marine Corps veteran, alumni of bulge bracket investment firm, made $30 million by age 40 working as a Managing Director in private equity. Devoted my life to education of overseas college students since age 40. Have lectured in 60+ countries in the world.

            Thanks for the ignorant fool comment, I appreciate a compliment. My Korean honorific name from their government is Cho Nam-Sik.

  • Nate Sympson

    To Mr. Jang: 사장님, 외국인에 대한 선입견 너무 심한것 같은데요. 제가 외국인 인데도 좀 간단한 규칙 한국어로 이해 할 수 있는데요. 외국에 도 매운 음식 있거든요. 해외에도 비싼 음식도 있거든요. 외국에도 다른 나라의 언어 배울수 있거든요. 제 궁굼 한것… 사장님은 어떻게 그런 선입견을 얻었어요? 외국인 에게 사장님의 한국인 전용 규칙을 만든 이유는 핑계처럼 나온데요. 차별 좀 예의 있는 척 하는게 설명해서 실망 했어요…

    • neveragain

      Never been Itaewon rihgt ? visit there for the couple of nights near hills. You will learn. Oh and fun facts ,there are many bars in Itaewon put a sign ” foreigners only” and koreans are ok with that .

    • E

      Your korean is horseshit

      • Nate Sympson

        Well, I’m open to your corrections.

        • JMS

          Your correction is don’t use Google translator to write in Korean.

          • Mary Tuilagi

            Lmao!

          • Pique Ewe

            It is clear to me that Nate Sympson did not rely on Google translator to write what he did. I know the difference. Take it from a College English Instructor in USA. I know what I am llooking at. I am also speaking as a Korean proficient who won prizes back in her native land. JMS, here is your dose of correction. GET YOURSELF A CLUE and please stop embarrassing me. And eff off, while you are at it. Thank you ever so. And before you call me a 미국노 please know that I come from a very long and ancient line of patriots and have made a lot of contributions for South Korea while abroad. You are ugly. And dishonest.

          • JMS

            STFU YOU fn clown. Go back to your mommy’s basement. I am Korean jackwad I think I know Korean better than a community college part time teacher’s assistant.

          • Pique Ewe

            You are not a psychic friend but pretend you are. I am not a community college part time teacher’s assistant, but you are welcome to go on believing whatever you please. If you are so great at Korean, please come back at me in 한글 why don’t you? If you are going to put down someone’s online post in good Korean you should demonstrate some superiority there. It is only correct. And I know something you do not, psychic psycho. I know how to punctuate. PRETENTIOUS FUCKTARD.

          • JMS

            You are a funny little boy.

          • Pique Ewe

            I am a funny CUNT, dickhead.
            I am not a boy. Nor a man.
            This is not an invitation, by the way.
            Oh, and where IS that Korean writing sample from you? Hmmm???

        • Pique Ewe

          Your Korean is pretty good. And I am a literary person of above average command of Korean, who has won prizes for writing in Korea. It is very clear and even elegant. And I am very appreciative of your proficiency, as someone who gets that from the American English speakers (the English are more appreciative) who insist to my face that there is a language barrier and that my English is horrible. I have taught English to the natives at the college level, but tell that to the school office ladies always telling me to GET IN THE LINE FOR ESL in a tone that is not nice. I think some people don’t like to see that WE ARE MORE PROFICIENT AT IT than they would like us to be. It seems to make SOME people uncomfortable and even angry.

      • neveragain

        His Korean is better than your English.

        • Pique Ewe

          His Korean is indeed superior. Not only to the idiot’s English but also to most Koreans’ command of their own 한글 online, of which I have read much, grimacing. Why do idiots feel the need to pop up and spout off here, there, everywhere? I bet the moron did not understand much of it, and that is not because Nate’s Korean is wanting in any sense. I suspect the Korean idiot is lacking sense, brain cells, and quite obviously, manners.

      • Pique Ewe

        You are obnoxious, E.

        And Nate’s Korean is not horseshit. Far from it. Better than many output from “Koreans” online that I have read. You are mean, and not right. Take it from this Korean who has won many writing awards back in Korea.

        Another thing. Please DO PROVIDE A SAMPLE of your command of Korean language, so that I may judge it for myself. To me, you sound like someone trying to take out some issues on an innocent party.

  • Anon

    Anyone who refers to someone who comes from a different country from them as “foreigner” is inherently part of the problem. Yikes, Mr. Jang.

    • FP14

      I was about to write the same thing. Its offensive.

      • JMS

        Why?

        • Lindsay Şoricelul-Teu Belton

          Why isn’t it offensive? If that’s the question, then because they’re never taught that it’s offensive. Most Koreans’ grasp of English (that’s not to say there AREN’T excellent English speakers in Korea, just that the majority learn only in school and don’t have to use it everyday) does not include what is offensive and what is not. Most Koreans don’t know it’s offensive to say someone is “fat” in English, for example. They’re not trying to be rude. They just don’t have another word for it.

      • Mikep

        When Koreans learn English in the public school system, they aren’t always taught the most appropriate English equivalents of Korean words. For example, the word Koreans use to say that something they ate tastes good is often taught as “delicious” in English. So you see many Koreans going around saying everything is “delicious.” When they take you to a restaurant to try some Korean food, they ask, “Is it delicious?”, something most native speakers would never ask.

        Similarly, the word they use to refer to people from other countries (pronounced “wae gook in”) could literally be translated as “person from another country,” but it’s taught as “foreigner” in English. Real estate agencies that cater to expats have signs that say “Foreigners Welcome” and restaurants advertise “English menu for foreigners.” They haven’t any idea that it might be considered offensive by some.

        • Huh

          It’s not Mr Jang’s use of “foreigner” that is offensive to me personally. It is his hypocritical, stereotype-based prejudice.

          • isaywhatwhatinthe

            talking about how he believes foreigners are more likely to be “loud, spend less, hit on female customers.” and apparently may tell workers “fuck you”? Yeah that part bugs me too. Not the use of foreigner. That’s the part that should bug everyone, not the use of “foreigner. ” Priorities people, seriously.

    • jack10

      When a person comes to another country, they are a foreigner to that country. Americans who are born in America, as all people who are born in countries that are not Korea, are foreigners to Korea. That’s not controversial, that’s just the definition of the word.

      At first you’re a foreigner, and then after you assimilate and intergrate into the society you can apply for citizenship. After you become a citizen of that country, then you’re not a foreigner.

      Obviously there are exceptions like permenant residents and such, but that would be getting unnecessarily complicated.

      Korean-Am’s are considered foreigners in Korea. Special foreigners, in that they’re expected to know more and the like, but foreigners nonetheless. Why would a white person NOT be considered a foreigner. (Unless he/she was born there or moved there at a very young age.)

      • Kit

        People who aren’t native English speakers often don’t realize that, in the United States anyway, the word “foreigner” often has a negative connotation. It’s the kind of thing a stereotypical old person says while squinting suspiciously over a fence.

        • welcometotheworld

          foreigner doesn’t have a negative connotation in the part of the States I’m from. I never understood why a few foreigners in Korea get so offended by the word. If you don’t have citizenship in the country you are in then you are indeed a foreigner. There’s nothing wrong with that.

      • Huh

        You are missing Anon’s point. An us/them mentality will perpetuate discrimination. Also, interestingly, you mentioned Korean-Americans. I’m sure most of them will attest to the discrimination that exists in Korea. Even though they “assimilate and integrate” they are still treated like foreigners.

        • Isaywhatwhatinthe

          because Korean-American’s are foreigners. I’m Caucasian but often Koreans comment on how I’m “Korean.” But I’m still a foreigner. It’s not a them vs us. It’s just reality. You can get along with each other and find things to identify with but still be foreign. You all read way too much into it.

          • pat

            No, “us vs then” is exactly why “foreigner” is such a common concept in Korea, it is to classify and point out the “them”, in America, Canada, and many other countries you never hear any word for “foreigner” in common usage (except in backwards parts) because it is not constantly on people’s minds. Citizenship/birth is some legalese that doesn’t concern people in day to day life, and tribal/ethnic history is an impolite curiosity. Korea is tribal to the point that clans are still a relevant thing.

            (let me add that perhaps most of America and Canada are in fact fairly backwards, and what I am saying is perhaps only the very good parts, but still you have to go to some real backwaters to hear Americans talking about clans)

      • Pique Ewe

        Well, I have been residing in USA since 1979. I got naturalized in 1984. I have taken part in many civic endeavors and gave my all for various causes political, social, environmental, and I am still called a FOREIGNER here. To my face. Not only that, people (so far 100% white) wave me away claiming they don’t want to deal with MY LANGUAGE BARRIER even though I have taught College English to the natives. I am just grateful that I am not shot to pieces by its enthusiastic police force, like the blacks here. Everything I own, have earned have been looked at dagger eyed by some “real” Americans here who do not feel that I deserve any of it. And some have actually reduced me to nothing a few times, too. The nerve of some entitled superior folks boggles my mind.

    • Daniel T. Callahan

      The guy even said in the article it’s a language thing and will gladly serve people who speak Korean. Read beyond the title mang.

      • Huh

        Mr. Jangs embedded prejudice is fairly evident from what he stated

  • Chun Seong-Oo, aka Ernie Mc

    I am an American of Scot-Irish descent, married to my Korean wife some 30+ years. I was a political activist in the 1970s and fully supportive of our civil rights and anti-discrimination laws and mores. I lived in Korea for 2 and a half years. Yet, I can sympathize with Mr. Jang’s feelings and attitudes. Too many times I have encountered people with skewed ideas about Korean women. As a college professor (kyo-su) at a university where all students were young ladies, I was surrounded by women whose behavior was much more puritanical than Americans at that time (1977-79). So I was shocked when I heard other Americans speak as if they believed all Korean women were prostitutes. Then I discovered that certain neighborhoods were frequented more by foreign men looking for drugs, prostitutes, etc. In Seoul, Ie-Tae-Wan was such a district. Not a good place to live nor to open a business establishment, unless one were willing to put up with the atmosphere there. In short, this situation does not even remotely compare with the Jim Crow attitudes in America that led to our anti-discrimination laws. Also, any WT who refuses to learn a few useful phrases of the culture he/she tours, needs a good kick in the hindquarters.

    • Stefanie

      While I agree that people need to do some research before traveling to another country, I think you need to come back for another trip. The country has changed DRAMATICALLY in the last 40 years and is basically an entirely different country. You should especially meet the young women here. They are as colorful and as forward as any other modern country. There is a big variety and a lot of woman are much more forward towards foreign men than Korean. You are speaking about women literally 2 generations before. Itaewon is a vastly different area now as well, frequented nightly by foreigners and young Koreans alike. It is the best place for foreign food in Seoul as well as a community for foreigners.

      • The Big Picture

        Said the same thing above. Spot on.

      • Bryan Cheron

        Stefanie is exactly right. Korea in the late 1970’s and Korea today might as well be different countries, like I imagine Canada being in the 1940’s as compared to today. As for Itaewon, it’s very gentrified and hip now.
        About Westerners not learning a few phrases deserving a kick in the ass, well, remember that this is the tourist area. I do speak Korean (well, TOPIK 2 is better than nothing), but it’s unreasonable to expect a tourist to learn enough Korean to communicate with a bar owner over bar rules.

      • Pique Ewe

        I have kept up with South Korea’s progresses and while I am happy with the many advances, and while the chicks there may be more “modern” today (at least superficially … and back in my day me and my pals were as sassy and forward and advanced as any girls anywhere) I still have problems with the way the women there allow SO MUCH VIOLATIONS AGAINST THEMSELVES even with all the means at their disposal. The tools are there for them to use, to help themselves even more, and yet when I look at South Korea as a whole I cannot be so sanguine in my outlook where females are concerned. There is still much more to go.

        And in this they are not unique. Not in the East. Not in the West, where people are lulled into a reality that really never was. But I would like South Korea to be a little less obnoxious in their misogyny.

        Also, it would be ever so nice if the visiting foreign dignitaries would PLEASE understand that the Korean women they come into contact with are not the norm, and that they are not panted and drooled after as sex gods. It would be ever so nice if that was made clear to them, because it really is disgusting what most non-Korean males have assumed of me, sexually. Korean males assume that I do not want them and shoot me dagger eyes before we even get within a mile of one another. But I would prefer that to what SO VERY MANY of the non-Korean males resort to doing to me, over and over again, nonstop. I am exhausted and angry beyond words and WANT IT TO STOP FOR FUCK’S SAKES.

        I am beginning to think it’s genetic or something.
        They just cannot seem to help themselves.
        Those that are not properly socialized at home, that is.
        Left to their natural devices, the Neanderthals just never stop.

        • http://notinthepink.com Ceri

          It would also be nice if Korean men would PLEASE understand that not all foreign women are prostitutes or lose and easy and willing to jump into bed with anyone with a penis. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been sexually harassed on the street or in public places (like supermarkets) by Korean men stinking of booze

    • flyingsword

      How about all the districts in Seoul that cater to Korean men looking for prostitutes? Most of the prostitutes in Korea are servings Korean males…..

      • Pique Ewe

        Prostitutes will always be with us.
        I just ask that people do not ASSUME that of us.
        A very reasonable request.
        It is SICKENING how it has been, for non-prostitutes.

        I have also had a few Italian males on several different occasions TRY TO MAKE ONE OF ME SOMEHOW because they could see me as nothing else. No matter what I said or did, they wanted to see me work as a prostitute. So they did all they could to disrupt my life, to get me fired, to spread stories about me, to get me destitute and friendless.

        Several points in my life, I have been disrupted by such cretins. Each time by an “ITALIAN” male, who were actually Americans of 3rd of 4th generation. PLEASE GET YOUR PIMPS OFF OF THOSE OF US YOU FIND MORE TO YOUR TASTE because we have our own agendas where our lives are concerned.

        We have things to learn. A world to change. A society to help. Dreams to dream. Sucking dirty cocks isn’t one of our ambitions, no matter how much you may fancy it. No matter how much this Tradition seems suited to some of us that you fancy so damn much, in your crazy assed minds, that your crotch must not be denied. ASSUME THAT WE ARE PROSTITUTES AT YOUR OWN PERIL. The next assfucker to do it to me will get his dick cut off. This is not an idle threat.

    • Pique Ewe

      I have been living in America since 1979, and got naturalized in 1984, at the height of the U.S. Imposed Military Dictatorship, and first taught College English to the “natives” in 1993. I am still called a FOREIGNER and people (100% white each and every time) wave me off claiming this insurmountable Language Barrier. Drunken white (100% of the numerous incidents) men have DEMANDED SEX OF ME more times than I care to recollect and two of them have outright raped me and this is not counting the date-rapes.

      The men claim to know all about me and make references to my MAMA-SAN who was actually a daughter of one of the most uptight Confucian person of royal descent. Agents of American Justice System also insisted that I was a prostitute, and that I was there to steal from this mafia kid for my drug money. Or that I must have been jilted by that mafia kid and wanting to take my revenge. I had just graduated from a prestigious high school and the kid was a complete stranger to me. The thing is, I am tired of being taken for a Prostitute. I am tired of getting blamed for being Slutty just because some guys get a hard on when they see an Asian woman. That is not because I am a bad girl or because of something I am doing wrong in my life.

      The nicer ones praise me for my math and science ability even though I have avoided those subjects as much as I could because they bore me, even though I was capable of earning good grades at accelerated levels. I love how they know all about me, and telling me at first meeting that in America the same spiel I get from Koreans and Americans alike. It is as if they are reading from some script.

      Very tired.

      I was also very tired when my life mate of 15 years, an Englishman of Norman-Scot background who helped restructure banking in Korea during the Asian Financial Crisis, got taken for some sleazy person and I got called a prostitute for being with him. A Western Princess. I was sick and tired of my own father REASONING with me that I will become a prostitute if I date a non-Korean. Well, that was preferable to becoming a doormat by dating a Korean.

      Very tired of bullshit all around and I have had enough.

      I AM A PERSON OF HIGH KOREAN DESCENT.
      I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN KOREAN AND ALWAYS WILL BE.
      NOW THAT CHUN DOODOO-HWAN IS GONE
      NOW THAT ROH TAE-WOEWOEWOE IS GONE
      AMERICA CAN HAVE MY CITIZENSHIP RIGHT BACK.
      I ONLY TOOK IT TO PROTECT MY POLITICAL SPEECH.

      AMERICA WAS NEVER GLAD TO HAVE ME, A CHARITY CASE.
      I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN A FOREIGNER AMONGST YOU.
      I AM GOING TO GET MY KOREAN CITIZENSHIP BACK ASAP.

      Things must change all over the world. Sick of the BS all around.

  • Paul

    Knowing the kind of foreigners that tend to frequent the Hooker Hill area I think I can sympathize with this guy’s situation. I would also say that the differences in drinking culture, at least when comparing Western and Korean, which he claimed are hurting his business, are pretty accurate. He could probably find a way to deal with the customers causing these problems without singling out foreigners, but why should he when there are bars in the area that do the same to Koreans.
    Although this may have changed in the past few years in Itaewon, I remember a number of bars there that were marked as “Foreigners Only”. If thats not an issue, then why should his sign be a problem.

    • Bryan Cheron

      Those ‘no Koreans allowed’ bars were a legal requirement for them to register as juicy bars, not the bar owner’s decision. Blame the government for that.

      • Paul

        Didn’t know that. Government legislated racism and tacit approval of ‘questionable’ establishments like that for the entertainment of US soldiers… that’s getting into some pretty shady territory.

    • Stefanie

      Wa Bar is a place where you have to order food. I forgot that going out for a beer after I had dinner with friends a couple of times. The waitresses just tell us we need to order food too. If we don’t want any food, we change bars. No problems or arguments.

  • Digitalsoju

    Sounds like one of those idiots with double standards when it comes to hitting on women:

    -It’s not okay for non Korean males to hit on Korean women. It’s disrespectful!
    -It’s okay for Korean men to hit on white women or do there thing in Southeast Asia.

    • neveragain

      Koreans don’t hit on women in the bar. really. Yes ,they do hit on the woman in club but not in the ordinary bar. Place like Jang’s are for drinking with friends and sad thing is certain number of expat males (guys know what’s what in Korea) ignore local custom with “I didn’t know or care” foreigner card.

      • Anon

        Actually, I have had several friends sexually assaulted by Korean men in bars. And, another “fun fact”, Korea has one the highest rates of sexual exploitation, sex trafficking and the highest rates of sexism in the world. So, please, dont make this about how foreign men dont respect women.

        • Guest

          Of course,it is. I heard my friend also saw unicorns were eaten by big bad korean tiger near Gangnam station in Korea,true story.

          • Digitalsoju

            So your friend was the drunk ajushi passed out on the street covered in puke?

        • Lindsay Şoricelul-Teu Belton

          I’ve had two Korean guys, on two entirely separate occasions (in ordinary bars, mind you), basically shove their tongues down my throat without my permission. One of them said to me “I want you,” even after I smacked him in the face. Koreans don’t hit on women in the bar, my ass.

          • Jason

            LOL. You just completely made that up. Pathetic.

        • Pique Ewe

          Why may this not be about how foreign men don’t respect women? Specifically myself? I ask this as a repeat-rape-victim. I was assaulted and raped by a certain “Anthony” from Northeast Philadelphia, and then was raped by the American justice system after my reporting of it. I was then raped by a certain David who was in his 3rd year as an Accounting Major at my school not even a year after that, for which I did not even bother to seek justice. The rapes themselves were disgusting but over fast. The LEGAL RAPE that I went through left a deep scar to this day, many decades later, and had a HUGE IMPACT on my life and my approach to it.

          And for your information, non-Korean men TEND TO BELIEVE WHAT THEY LIKE when they see a targetable sex-object REGARDLESS OF THE SETTING OR OCCASION OR GENERAL CIRCUMSTANCE. I have had them do intolerable stuff to me at society events, at concerts, in classrooms, at conferences, in business settings, and basically just about ANY AND EVERYWHERE that it cannot possibly be anticipated. I just assume some idiot will be up to some shit now.

          I would like the non-Korean males to change this.,
          We are not up for your fucking consumption.
          We are not necessarily available for your pleasure.

          I have NEVER had a Korean male not take a hint.
          They are generally cautious and flee fast.
          However antedeluvian and obnoxious the bastard may be.
          They just do not have the BOLDNESS of the other variety.

          It is as if they EXPECT STUFF of me, as sure as gravity.
          I find that assumption WAY MORE THAN I CAN TOLERATE.
          The height of obnoxiousness, really. STOP IT ALREADY.
          Ask. Nicely. Stop yourselves first and consider that she may NOT be a prostitute, or even if a prostitute, perhaps that she may not want to get it on with YOU specifically. I cannot imagine a sentient being getting jollies from IMPOSING themselves on someone who clearly does not want to engage in sexual acts with them. But then who can know the inscrutable minds of the NEANDERTHALS really? Certainly not I. I mean, look at the shit they’ve been doing for centuries. YOU’VE GOT TO BE INHUMAN AND INSANE TO DO THAT SHIT AND BE PROUD OF IT. I just cannot relate. Nor want “relations” with such entities. The thought disgusts me.

        • William Mcneil

          You just made all this up. Show some evidence before you state things as fact. All the statements you made are without merit and completely made up.

        • esthersooah

          How exactly do you measure sexism? I’d be more than happy if you’d enlighten me on that topic.

      • Digitalsoju

        No offense, but your comment is really stupid and ignorant. Go to 삼거리 포차 or 한신포차 late at night and see what goes on. I say this as someone of Korean blood. You can also go to Prost and Glam in Itaewon and see Korean guys hitting on anything over a 5, hell you’ll even see 50 year old 아저씨s try to hit on young Korean girls.

        • neveragain

          Dude, you are living in Itaewoon/HBC bubble. There are larger Korea outside. Tell me, did you see such a action outside of Itaewoon bubble ?

          • Digitalsoju

            -The 삼거리포차 I’m referring to is in Gangnam
            -한신 포차 is in 논현.

            The fact you don’t even know of those places tells me you know very little about what’s going on. It happens everywhere in Seoul including 헌팅 on the streets. I had a female friend who was drunk and just trying to make her way to the bus stop and half a dozen Korean guys harassed her and tried to take her home. The fact you are ignorant to this tells me you don’t go out very much, go even ask your Korean friends about it.

          • welcometotheworld

            I’ve personally experienced it in Suwon, Daejeon, Itaewon (I’ve only been to Itaewon 3 times btw), and Busan. I’ve only been to clubs twice in my life. It often happens in normal bars or bar/restaurant combos. Has even happened to me in cafes and on trains.

            Korean guys aren’t really all that different than foreign guys. Some are obnoxious and will keep trying to aggressively hit on you even though you keep declining and some are respectful. It doesn’t really matter where you are.

            Just because you haven’t personally experienced it doesn’t mean you know what “Korean men do or don’t do”

        • esthersooah

          Personal responsibility is a thing my friend and it should be practiced. I mean, anyone who goes to those places should know, what they can expect.

    • Guest

      You’re missing the point. It’s not okay to be a bloody douchebag for ANY men. Men degrade females all over the world all the time. But in the cases of certain groups of westerners in Korea, that formula is perfected by example.

      I’ve seen tourists try to randomly ask random Korean women to sleep with them simply because they’re foreigners. Everyone knows this breed, even in non international situations. This one just happens to be about Korea.

      This is not a phenomenon without any roots. it’s embedded in western media and entertainment’s portrayal of asians. Even on expat message boards you see things like “Korean men are so pathetic, why wouldn’t they date a strong >insert superiority race here”. This kind of view of the world is even academically discussed, but rarely discussed publicly.

      • Digitalsoju

        I never said it was okay for certain men. My point was, Korean men do the same thing but they’re hypocritical about it. Double standards. Korean men go to the Philippines/Thailand and act the same way you just described.

      • isaywhatwhatinthe

        urm Korean men do the same thing to foreign women. I haven’t just seen it, I’ve experienced it. I don’t really understand why foreign guys doing that to Korean women is any different than Korean men doing it to foreign women.

        And people on those message boards obviously live in a bubble or are blind because Korean men date outside of their race all of the time. Maybe it wasn’t so common like 10 years ago, but it’s pretty common now. Also something I’ve personally experienced and witnessed. I know several happily married couples who are white and 1 black woman married to Korean men.

  • neveragain

    I would say WTF ? what’s wrong with you Jang (bar owner) but…Itaewon….hummm…..I visited that god awful place once with my girlfriend. big mistake. She got hit by thousands drooling males and asked “how much for your girl ?-couple of guys ask price of my service….. Never again.
    edit : what’s with foreign male in korea ? I started seeing same horny dudes around Hongdae,Gangnam.

    • Stefanie

      My husband (Korean) has been asked by another (gross) Korean man via the waitress where I was from since he thought I might be a prostitute. As soon as he said I was American, she went behind his back and started waving her arms no.

      I’ve also, while walking hand in hand with my hubby, had my other hand grabbed by a foreign (middle eastern) man, pulled me towards him and said something like “Hey, pretty lady.” Before I jerked myself away.

      Horny guys and jerks are everywhere and from every country.

    • chris

      I took my korean wife out to dinner at an expensive restaurant, my wife went to the bathroom, and a KOREAN man who was sitting at the table close to us, followed her into the bathroom, and gave her his card and said, why don’t you call me sometime “I AM RICH GUY” I can show you a good time!

      how many REDLIGHT DISTRICTS in KOREA? HOW MANY ROOMSALONS? HOW MANY SEX BARS!
      how many massage palours! how many KOREAN MEN GO ON A GOLF TRIP TO south east asia! really sex tours!! how many korean men leave behind philipina girls pregnant in the philipines from this sex sojourns! and leave kids behind!!

      dont talk to us about foreign guys!!! LOOK AT KOREAN MEN!!!!

      • neveragain

        Stefanie’s comment is fair and worth opinion to think about.

        On the other hand , chris’s comment is most certainly not.
        Yes there are red light districts in Korea,yes there are sex bars in Korea,yes Korean dudes go sex tour. So ? Did I say “Korean are all virgin Mary ” No, I didn’t and give me a break,that shame tactic westerns like to throw around? that works on the naive Koreans,not me. I travel enough to know Koreans are no better or worse than westerns about ‘prostitution issues’.
        One incident during your time in Korea and my experience during one afternoon in Itaewoon,
        think about it .

        • chris

          really? Korea has more women working in prostitution and entertainment male bars than any other country in the world!
          people think thailand is sex capital! NO.. KOREA IS! and in Korean history, men going to brothels has been a historical culture for centuries and continues too. I am not saying every country doesn’t have brothels, but Korea brings these sex places into the suburbs , across the road from schools, or anywhere.

          • Pique Ewe

            Careful. Your agenda is showing.
            Frustrated with your “social” life?

      • Guest

        Why can’t everyone just be against degrading women? Doesn’t matter what color you are.

  • Stefanie

    Refusing service to an entire group of people based on their nationality or ethnicity is the definition of racism. There are so many avenues he could have used except to put the Korean only sign up there. He could have used an online translator for the rules. While the grammar would be butchered, it would get the point across and it is free. Most restaurants I go to don’t have English speakers or even English menus. Non-Korean speaking friends learn to read Korean, try to order in their best Korean, or point to the item.

    We all also learn rather quick not to be surprised if what we order is spicy after arriving here. I love spicy stuff now and I know many people who come here loving spiciness.

    I know for a fact that many Koreans make disturbances at restaurants. We have all seen it. We’ve also seen foreigners do the same thing. It is called alcohol. If you don’t want any type of fighting or people refusing to pay, do not open a bar. Open a coffee shop. It seems his choice of business and location was rather poor. Ignorant seems to be the best word to describe this guy.

  • Lindsey Webb

    While I agree that many foreign (by foreign he obviously means Westerners) men behave in deplorable ways when they go out at night to drink, particularly in areas such as Itaewon, I still can’t stand behind this guy’s skewed stereotypical reasoning for not allowing foreign customers into his place of business. Just reading through the ignorant things he says are huge red flags that he is very prejudice and racist, whether he wants to admit it or not. Saying that the food is too spicy is laughable. Is it really so hard for people like this to believe that a “foreigner” can’t eat anything spicy? And he just assumes any foreigner who tries to come there is completely incapable of speaking Korean. Give me a break. There are Westerners/foreigners all over Korea and they manage to get by at restaurants without these HUGE issues this guy claims he has dealt with. If you come into a business and they owner says “get out, only Koreans” of course a few people will lose their temper and say fuck you.

    • John Walsh

      I guess he never met a Mexican-American solider looking for some dinner. That solider would laugh on his scale of what spicy is.

      • Guest

        Isn’t that itself a stereotype?

        • John Walsh

          Not talking about stereotypes. Talking about outright discrimination! Get an f..ing clue.

  • Charles farley

    I lived in Korea for 3 years. Leaving was my biggest mistake! Every foreigner I knew would avoid Itaewon like the plague. It is THE sh**hole of Korea, (a wonderful, beautiful country). Koreans love foreigners, but Itaewon hosts a US army base. Have you ever seen a 6’5″ Marine just walk across a bar to another table, physically pick up a woman and carry her back to his table? It was like witnessing a rape. Try that in the US. I saw a little runt Marine throw a massive garbage can at a parked taxi because he was getting pumped for a night out partying. The very old, (60ish), driver started yelling and the 20+ Marine wanted to fight him. soldiers are banned from every other part of Seoul. Koreans are extremely polite people and don’t know how to deal with the trashier foreigners who go there. I’m white and Canadian and if I owned a restaurant in Itaewon, it would be Koreans only too.

    • JMS

      Soldiers are not banned from any part of Seoul.

    • The Big Picture

      Your post is extremely outdated. All of what you say was true 10 years ago. Itaewon has more recently undergone rapid gentrification and most of it (besides hooker hill, which is going to fold within 5 years) is now a tourist enclave that more closely resembles Brooklyn. Soldiers still come, but they are a minority in a crowd of English teachers, foreign businesspeople and diplomats, and Young Korean couples who want to try foreign food. And since the curfew went into effect, incidents like the one you describe have become more and more rare.

      • Bryan Cheron

        Exactly what The Big Picture said. You must’ve lived in Korea a long time ago. When I came, in 2005, there was still a little of what you’re describing, but starting around 2008 or so, it started to change. Now? It’s hard to imagine it gentrifying any faster.

        • Lindsay Şoricelul-Teu Belton

          A lot of that has to do with bases confining soldiers to base of late, actually. One base just recently (I have friends on the US bases in Korea, and have lived in Korea for about 2 1/2 years now) confined all soldiers to base for 2 weeks, because their base had more alcohol-related incidents in one weekend than the entire peninsula had in the entire previous month. It also helps that often when incidents break out in bars or nightclubs in Itaewon, that club/bar will refuse entry to anyone without an Alien Registration Card for a week or two, solely because military personnel do not receive ARCs.
          Itaewon itself has become better than it once was, but I still avoid it 90% of the time.

          • Josh Morland

            That “base” of Camp wouldn’t happen to be Camp Hovey’s 2nd Infantry Division would it? LMAO.

    • Digitalsoju

      Itaewon is now 80% Koreans, 20% foreigners. Times have changed. This isn’t your daddy’s Itaewon.

      • Lindsay Şoricelul-Teu Belton

        Really? I get reverse culture shock when I go to Itaewon. I start wondering where Korea went.

    • Katy

      Koreans don’t always love foreigners. I’ve always been treated well as a white American woman, but they are extremely rude to my male friends, especially if they are Hispanic. They pick and choose who they “love” based on stereotypical ideals they learn from what the media shows them.

      • Lindsay Şoricelul-Teu Belton

        Exactly. Many Koreans hate anyone with darker skin, even if they’re just a tan white person or a light-skinned Hispanic. There was one bar (in Itaewon again, if I remember correctly), that had a sign during the Ebola scare that said “No Africans,” and they refused entry to anyone who was black, even if they weren’t actually African. There was a club I knew of in Cheonan-si that would do the same, although it was even more awkward because there was no sign. They would just make up some excuse why people weren’t allowed to enter, and then let the Koreans behind them in line right in.

        In one of my middle school classes, there was one boy who was SLIGHTLY darker than the rest (his mother was Filipina), and the kids all called him “Obama” on a regular basis, like that was supposed to be an insult.

  • JMS

    I don’t blame him. Go to some bars around Osan and Kunsan Air Base and many don’t allow Koreans into them to avoid trouble with the GIs.

  • Anon

    There is so much irony about this situation. What will happen, when he and his mail order bride have a mixed baby together, and that poor child is the source of constant ridicule, humiliation and denied opportunity. Will he be upset when a sign hangs in a restaurant saying “no ethnically mixed allowed”. Then the owner of that restaurant rattles off a list of horrible racial stereotypes about why ethnically mixed people are bad for his business.

    I really hope that Korea recognizes what’s going on here. Korea can’t be a world leader, if they systematically offend every other nationality.

    • Peacetalks

      Well honestly, Uzbek can look pretty similar to Koreans so I suspect it won’t be a giant issue. The kids will know the language and culture.

  • Joseph

    Whatever. Don’t trust anything this guy Lee Tae Hoon writes. He doesn’t even own a tape recorder, and he puts things in quotes, that are not even quoted by the people he interviews. His English is horrible and all the stories are taken out of context to get YOU the readers all hyped up. Don’t believe the Hype! Look at his face. Does he look like an honest reporter?

  • soeren

    i can somehow understand this guy. i think he is just a total typical local korean dude, who doesn’t understand the issue. his reasoning makes me laugh. maybe we should be generous with this dude and patiently explain him why it is offensive, like talking to a child or so…….

  • Randy

    As a foreigner, I have no problem with this whatsoever.

    • Lindsay Şoricelul-Teu Belton

      Same. When I went to Tokyo I was refused entry at two different bars. When I asked why, they said “No foreigners.” At first, I was hurt by that. But honestly I prefer it to the way many Korean establishments will allow you entry and then give you mediocre service or stare at you the whole time like they’re afraid of you.

  • The Big Picture

    I have the following questions for Mr. Jang:
    1) If you visited a foreign country (let’s say, in this case, your wife’s), which would make you feel worse, getting poor service because of misunderstandings or being barred from the restaurant?
    2) You made the decision to live and work in a multi-cultural community yet you maintain many ignorant stereotypes about your potential customers. Did you ever try to open your restaurant to o foreigners to see if they would really act and behave in tthe ways that you think?
    3) Since many, if not most foreigners (especially teachers) come to Itaewon from other parts of the country to eat burgers and other foreign food, is your sign even necessary to discourage their business?

    I know I’m not likely to want any pojangmacha food in Itaewon, and I wouldn’t visit unless I was with a group of people who did and were willing to take the chance on a Korean menu. Too bad that won’t be possible anyway.

    • John Walsh

      He is a foolish man. There are 200+ colleges with dual speaking and writing Korean students who could translate his menu, do consulting on marketing and be potential employees, plus he could use a pictorial menuboard and menu. I live in Korea for 5 years and as a businessman did consulting for firms from Samsung down to small businesses in Hoegidong. There is just no excuse for this. If you get a license to operate a business, you must be compliant to the law as well as business common sense that your doors are open to all. If there is misbehavior, that is what police departments are for.

  • Sam

    Just ban the u.s military. So many of them are really awful when they go out at night. Sexually harassing girls, throwing out racial slurs, trashing restaurants, starting fights etc. sad to say I have witness many of these things when I lived in Korea and it’s not just Korean girls that get sexually harassed by these military jerks, it’s also the foreign girls who have to deal with them too. What bar owner wants to deal with that?

    • chris

      I agree, actually I don’t see why American service men are even allowed off base! they are here to work in the military, not to have a vacation in a foreign country! I think they should only be allowed out during the days, this is a holiday for them!

      • JMS

        The question should really be why does your mom allow you out of the basement.

  • Kenny Wu

    When I was last in Itaewon around 2002 there were seemed to be a general rule where on one side of the main street everyone was welcome (the seedier side where my wallet was stolen) and the other side of the street many places had signs up say “No GI”. It seemed normal and accepted by everyone I met.
    Apart from Itaewon, Seoul and the rest of Korea seemed amazing, friendly people who were obviously very patriotic but polite and respectful, fantastic food and every well organised.

    • Bryan Cheron

      Itaewon is a *very* different place now. Very gentrified and all that.

  • chris

    just another RACIST! move on here, nothing to see..

  • Andrew

    I don’t agree with his policy, but I partially see his point. A lot of foreigners could do with toning it down a bit in restaurants here, perhaps picking up the vibe of the place and acting accordingly – order food, dont shout, dont sleaze on chicks

  • hate foreigner making trouble

    most foreigners in korea don’t make any effort to learn korean, this is one of the causes why the restaurant owner posted such a phrase. it’s korea you guys are living in korea and showing no efforts to adopt its culture does it make any sense? just think as if some asians are in your country with only speaking their own language and no willing to adjust to your culture. it can be quite offensive to you. thus, before blaming that korean owner as rasist just think what you have done in korea if you are not really willing to adopt to korean culture and just off the country

    • Lindsay Şoricelul-Teu Belton

      While I completely agree with you, and there are a lot of people (particularly in the US) who would easily tell a foreigner to “Speak English or go back where you came from,” there is also the point that in the US, it’s illegal to refuse someone service because of that. The same is not true in Korea, and while I don’t personally have a problem with that as a foreigner, it’s easy to see how many foreigners would take issue with it, when such outward prejudice is illegal in their home countries.

    • weareallthesame

      there are more foreigners in Korea trying hard to learn Korean than you realize. And just because we can be shy to speak it outside of ordering food or coffee doesn’t mean we don’t understand what Koreans are saying. Same goes for Korean people studying English, often they understand more than they can speak. Itaewon is in Seoul, and there are many foreigners in Seoul who live in Korea to study Korean.

      There was even an incident where a girl I know came to Korea for a Korean language program at a university in Seoul (I’m not close with her but we worked together at our university, she’s a little bit younger than me). While she was on the train a guy was talking about her to his girlfriend loudly, when his girlfriend told him to be quiet and that she may understand. The boyfriends response was to laugh and say “a foreigner who can speak Korean?” in a negative manner. It made her really depressed and made her more homesick. She’s actually pretty fluent in Korean, not a native speaker but very advanced. She loved Korea, but people treating her automatically assuming things about her has made her not want to come back to Korea for an extended period.

      I came to Korea to work and not a different country because I wanted to continue studying Korean after studying it for one year in the USA. I even chose Korea over Japan, even though Japanese was my major because during my last year at my University I took Korean and realized I was more interested in it as a language. On a regular basis forums and facebook pages for foreigners in Korea have people who ask about where they can study Korean in their location. Go to language cafes and you will find foreigners from students and other occupations trying to practice Korean.

      I don’t know about other countries but the USA saying “speak English or go back to your country” is looked down upon and is considered offensive. People who say stuff like that are thought to be uneducated and prejudiced. Not speaking English isn’t offensive, attacking those who can’t or can’t speak well is.

      If the problem that the owner had was just about not speaking Korean I think most people could understand. It’s the comments about how he believes foreigners are loud, spend less, aggressively hit on Korean women, and might even tell servers “fuck you” that makes him racist. He may not be a bad person, but he needs to learn why that is wrong.

      Korea has made me a bit thick skinned in peoples assumptions of me. I knew there would be many before I got here, luckily I have had the chance to change those generalizations a lot of people had about me when they first saw me. At least that’s something.

    • weareallthesame

      if his problem is foreigners who can’t speak Korean his sign should say “Korean 한국어 only” not “Korean 한국인 only”
      More people can understand that only services in Korean are available than saying only Korean people are welcome here.

      This is a big difference. I think if the owner changed his sign to 한국어 then people will be okay and those who work hard at studying Korean and getting along with Korean people won’t feel upset/depressed. Because it is depressing sometimes when you are trying hard, but people make assumptions about you anyways.

    • pat

      Korean areas of Vancouver have signs entirely in Korean, I went there to try Korean food, but they didn’t even have English menus and the people were inhospitable. That’s in Canada, yet no one is banning them from anywhere (which is illegal in Canada) or even making them put up English signs.

  • John Walsh

    All discrimination is ignorant. I hope this man never needs a meal in say Rwanda. What’s his chances of speaking Kinyarwanda? News flash, every human being on earth can trace their genetic ancestry to the Rift Valley of Chad/Ethiopia and to an indigenous population of about 20 people.

    • JMS

      Luckily you only need about $5 to live like a king in Rwanda.

  • Lorne

    He absolutely within his rights to make his establishment “Korean only” and he also within his rights to be a prejudiced asshole. If I owned a restaurant in Itaewon, the sign on my door would say something along the lines of “Management reserves the right to refuse service to anyone management damn well chooses.”

    My only question is, if the sign says “Korean only”, why would a non-Korean want to go in there anyway? Oh, and this one too, tangentially: does this ban include ethnic Koreans not born in Korea? That might be a trickier issue.

  • Owen

    I don’t find the guy to be racist at all. He has had bad experiences with tourists that’s all. They disrespect his bar. Like he said, in liu of bouncers, if you cannot understand his rules he reserves the right to refuse you entry. I think it’s kinda clear enough.

  • OpenYourEyes

    The Korean perspective of the bar owner is understandable but it doesn’t make it right. Even if I give him the benefit of the doubt, he didn’t do due diligence of bringing such establishment to such a neighborhood and the implications and repercussions of dealing with “more than likely foreign customers.” What did he expect? And I highly doubt that he was totally oblivious to Itaewon and its potentially awful reputation.

  • DA English

    I can see both sides of this. For the last 4 1/2 years I’ve been working on my doctoral degree and my dissertation is on the interaction between foreigners and small and medium sized businesses (which Mr. Jang’s bar certainly would qualify as). While my dissertation is not yet finished, I can say that listening to those who participated in my study I learned a lot about foreigner’s perceptions of Korea, even after living here for 11 years myself.

    Many foreigners, especially those who are new, are not aware that some bars require buying side dishes. Also there are the small but loud number of really obnoxious foreigners, usually the ones who live here for a short amount of time and never get to the point where they understand the culture. There is no way to teach culture unless one wants to willingly learn about it.

    On the other hand, I think there are several things Mr. Jang could do to mitigate the situation with foreigners. His views are short-sighted, but he sounds willing to listen if approached in the right way. As for foreigners, the number is going to continue to grow here in Korea (Euromonitor says 4-5 million by 2040). Businesses need to be ready to adjust to the needs of foreigners.

    As many have pointed out, Itaewon has changed over the years and mellowed quite a bit. From what I’ve heard (because I don’t go there often) the area is becoming more popular with Koreans that want a more international feel similar to being outside of Korea.

    I’m personally not big on bars or drinking, but I hope Mr. Jang reconsiders his policy. If so, I’ll buy him a drink.

  • Stefanie

    Even though this is a bit late, I do want to point out the KOREAN on his sign.

    It says “한국인” Korean person not “한국어” Korean language. Honestly, I don’t see a problem with posting, especially in Itaewon, that is a Korean language only establishment. I assume everywhere I go in Korea is a Korean language only location but I can see how this is different in Itaewon.

    The fact he chose this wording in Korean, his native language, completely defeats any of his justifications. This isn’t language based. If it was, he could have written it that way. He could have used google translate and posted the rules in English on the door and on the wall. It would have been crappy English but it would have gotten the point across. Then he could just point to the sign or the rule. He could have chosen to open his bar ANYWHERE ELSE in Seoul and have severely limited this problem. He lives in Itaewon, good for him. I don’t work in the exact same area I live. A 10 to 20 minute commute would solve all of these problems.

    I heard that he owned a club in Itaewon before this restaurant. He knew the issues when he decided to open this restaurant. He knew he was being racist and he is trying to dig himself out of his hole with crappy excuses. Using his wife a justification that he isn’t racist is crap. That is like saying, “I have a black friend, it’s okay.”

  • Taelan Baylor

    Lay off Mr. Jang. He’s got a business to run and checks to cash. He’s there everyday and if he believes that allowing foreigners hurts his business then so be it. I’m not going to tell him what to do.

  • The Dude

    There’s no reason to go to Korea. The economy is collapsing, over 80% of Korean women are unemployed, so working at Hooker Hill is no surprise. Also, when a foreigner takes a job, it’s basically slave labor. Even one of the largest teaching groups, Pagoda, works it’s employees from 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and then from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. A 15-hour split-shift? But, again, there’s no discrimination law. So, again, DO NOT live in Korea.

    • speechless

      Yeah it must be really nice to stereotype your country with strange “statistics” and a poor attitude. Don’t you think? Partial negative experience or information should not predominate the whole. It is not the experience for everyone. I loved Korea. Please refer to official statistics and STUDY!

  • speechless

    One must first think about the context. What previous negative experiences might have led the store owner to hang up such a sign? It may be the case that some (of course the very rare few) travelers engage in activities and behavior they would otherwise never engage in their hometown. RESPECT PEACE, & LOVE

  • billy bob

    At Camp Casey South Korea there were bars which were for foreigners only.
    US Army MPs use to patrol these places and would harass Asian American GIs, like me, because we looked like Koreans.

  • billy bob

    MAOA genetic sequence indicates whether you have psychopathic disposition or not. About 1% of US males have MAOA 2R psychopath gene. About 0.0063% of Korean males have this gene. You can see why Koreans would be wary of foreigners.

    In the US military, which is all volunteers, the rate of MAOAL 2R males is much higher. I know. I served too. It is not much different than doing time in the US prison system.

    • Pique Ewe

      Only 1% really? Much lower than expected.
      There are obviously some other undiscovered genes at play too.

      My Korean father and brother were violently insane.
      From a special bloodline though. Crazy experiences too.

      And did you know that most Human-Neanderthal matings occurred in the region we call Europe today? It was so long ago that humans were probably in the process of scattering, and we all probably looked like East Indians or Latinos. But it was in Europe that Neanderthals got absorbed into Human genetic code, in that hawwwt bed of luuuurve.

  • wow

    “When foreigners say ‘fuck you,’ our staff members get emotionally hurt and customers, especially women, feel uncomfortable.“ What the actual hell. So just because females have different genitalia then men they’re more emotional. Okay bruh, that’s some logic right there. Not sexist at all.

  • pat

    In all ‘white’ countries there are very strict drinking laws regarding open alcohol, public intoxication, licenses to sell alcohol, times when alcohol can be sold, minimum prices for alcohol, and artificial attempts to raise the price of alcohol to discourage drinking… Why? Because a very high percentage of ‘white’ people regress into total barbarians when drunk. Korean drinking culture seems more about drowning your sorrows, and temporarily escaping Hell Joseon.

  • Gerardo Gallo

    Koreans, wake up! “Korean only” is the only way to save themselves from the Western barbarians. Please, save your traditions

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