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  • 작성자 사진AG Reporter

[ISSUE] Korea Faces Tip Culture as Challenges

No.166 / Oct 16, 2023

Recently, a photo of a glass bottle written “Tip Box” at the checkout counter at a cafe in Yeonnam-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, was posted in an online community, causing controversy. Tip culture, which used to be American, has appeared in Korea, and people’s opposition continues. The mobility platform KakaoTaxi launched a pilot service for “audit tips.” Other taxi platforms have also adopted tipping policies. On August 24, the Nate-Q site conducted a survey on the introduction of a domestic tipping culture for adults; 73% of the respondents said that they could never accept it. Conversely, only 5% of the respondents expressed positive opinions, saying, “If we can receive good services, we can actively accept them.”

A tip is money voluntarily given to a service provider. The English word “TIPs” is derived from the abbreviation of the phrase “To Insure Promptness” written on the plate where the tip was placed at the time. The origin of tip culture began in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries with the custom of aristocrats doing favors for servants or slaves, which was established in the United States (U.S.) when people began following European aristocratic customs through traveling to Europe after the Civil War. Countries where tips are mandatory include the U.S. and Canada. Countries where tips are optional include the United Kingdom (U.K.), France, and formerly colonial nations. East asian countries do not have tipping cultures. The U.S. introduced a system called “Tip Credit” in 1938. Under this law, employers are not required to pay the full minimum wage to workers who earn more than 30 dollars a month in tips. As their stable income is small, workers have no choice but to hang themselves on their tips. Tips in the U.S., but not in Korea, are a matter of livelihood. Korea has a fixed minimum wage. If employees demand that their salary be given by customers, employers will not retain the minimum wage, and there is concern about tax evasion.

Since Korean sentiment itself is culturally accustomed to explicitly showing the value of services, including the value of the service within the price, recklessly introducing tip culture can be difficult for people to accept. From the consumer’s perspective, the cost of the service itself is already included in the fee to be paid, so paying an additional amount is a considerable burden. In the U.S., tip inflation has occurred due to a significant increase in tip rates since COVID-19, and anti-tip culture movements have recently become controversial. What do you think about tip culture?


By Kim Min-seo, AG Cub Reporter

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