Korean elderly have made headlines in New York City for loitering at a McDonald's every day, starting early in the morning till well after dark, ordering only fries or coffee. After they were kicked out for hampering business, some in the Korean community called for a boycott of the restaurant.
The New York Times story on elderly squatters in McDonald's caused a buzz over the weekend, and McDonald's reacted quickly, putting out the fire by Monday by reaching a “McResolution!“. They promised to extend sitting hours for the elderly during less-busy times and even to collaborate with local seniors centers to provide transportation to and from the restaurant.
However, Koreans who are familiar with senior citizens overstaying at fast food stores in one of the most overcrowded and busiest cities in the world, the South Korean capital of Seoul, seem to understand McDonald's tough choice. Here are some reactions from South Korean online venues:
맥도날드 사건. 이런 일에 제발 인종 이런 것 좀 안 들먹거리면 좋겠다. 인종차별 차원에서 쫓아낸 것도 아닌데 쫓겨난 입장에서 자신들을 묶어서 “한국인”이라 그러면 자기 얼굴이 침 뱉기지. 어글리. 부끄럽다 참. 오죽하면 쫓아냈겠어. 안봐도 뻔한데.
— Sumin Kim (@kimsumin) January 18, 2014
The McDonald's fiasco. I really hope people don't bring ‘race’ into the equation. It is not like they were kicked out because of their race/nationality. By emphasizing that it is ‘Koreans’ who were being kicked out, they are actually embarrassing themselves. This is so ugly, and just embarrassing. I can see why this happen.
뉴욕 맥도널드 불매 운동이 별로 맘에 안 와 닿는건 전형적인 한국식 사고 이기 때문이다. 노인들이 종묘 앞에 모여 있고 페스트푸드 점에 죽치고 앉아 있는거 역시 한국 사회의 문제이지 문화가 아니다. 그런걸 남의 나라에서도 답습하는게 참 안타깝다.
— Michael Lee (@michaelreturn) January 17, 2014
The reason why I am not rooting for a McDonald's boycott in New York is because how they approach this problem is just so typical. Jongmyo Area in Seoul is packed with elderly people who loiter at fast food chains. It is not Korean ‘culture', but a problem Korean society has. It is just deplorable that they brought it over and repeat it in another country.
Net users cast doubt on the Korean Parents Association of New York, the group that initiated the boycott, and questioned whether they are eligible to represent the whole Korean community in general. Some from the group, notably the chairwoman, are accused of being extreme right-wingers who infamously blocked a peaceful protest held in New York last autumn against the election manipulation scandal. User @hippietech wrote [ko]:
자극적인 제목으로 민족성 자극하는 저질 기사. 한인사회 발끈한 적 없습니다. 몇몇 노인들이 진상짓 했을뿐
I see so many sensational, trashy reports which provoke ethnicity issues. No. Korean communities have not been angered by [the McDonald's case] and it is just a handful of rouge seniors who made a scene.