KoreaBANG reports the issues that grab headlines in Korea, sometimes those issues are political scandals, sometimes they are horrific crimes, and sometimes they are arguments over bananas. A university cafeteria’s decision to raise food prices by ₩200 without sufficiently consulting with students has led to an explosion of protest, fueled in part by the company’s attempt to appease customers by giving away five hundred free bananas. The fact that the protest happened at the renowned Sookmyung Women’s University contributed to the coverage and to netizen criticism online, as many netizens mocked the young women for protesting a ₩200 (USD $0.19) price increase but happily drinking ₩5000 (USD $4.66) Starbucks coffee.
Proving that the political rallying cry for “half-price” costs still has social relevance, the students started a “half price meals” protest, selling bibimbap in front of the main cafeteria building for ₩1400. Student groups at universities across South Korea have staged “half price” sales protests in recent years in response to rising tuition and cost of living.
Article from Hankyoreh:
“500 Bananas, First Come First Served”, angers Sookmyung Students
Sookymung Women’s University students are angry after the announcement of a ‘500 bananas, first come first served’ policy. The offer was an attempt by student cafeteria manager Sinsegae Food’s to compensate students resisting a unilateral price increase.
According to three days worth of comments from the Sookmyung student government, before the start of the the most recent semester, the Sinsegae Food company raised most meal prices by ₩200 (USD $0.19). The price of Korean meals rose from ₩2300 to ₩2500, the price of a general meal went from ₩2800 to ₩3000, and the price of specials rose from ₩3100 to ₩3300.
The Sookmyung student government fiercely protested this price increase, saying the price increase occurred without student input. The student body argued, “At the beginning of this year, Sinsegae Food said it would discuss the issue of raising school cafeteria menu prices in the middle of the first semester with the student body, but in August, we were only notified of the price increase, and there was no discussion. This is a case of disregarding the students.”
According to a Sinsegae statement from October 8th posted an apology on the school’s bulletin board, “we regret not being able to fully discuss the situation beforehand”, however, their statement “First come first serve, we will give you 500 bananas” rubbed students the wrong way. Hyun Woo-ueon, (a 3rd year student in the Cultural Tourism Department), stated “Randomly raising prices and giving away on a first come first serve basis much fewer bananas than there were customers makes me angry.”
On October 20th, as students grew more dissatisfied with the situation, the cafeteria company raised the number of bananas it would offer to 1100 and even included free yogurt. In response, student objections only grew sharper. On the school’s online community, comments flooded in, saying “Yogurt give aways? What is this, a kindergarten?” and “Is a one-time show of compensation enough to resolve the lack of communication?”. One student wrote, “I can’t stand their attitude of thinking they can fix their mistake by throwing monkeys at us, like we were a bunch of monkeys. I realized how much of an arrogant attitude they have towards students.”
In response, a Sinsegae Food representative said, “The plan to increase prices was decided after concluding discussions with the school as the main party. The offer of compensation was part of our effort to fully understand students’ opinions.”
Until they are able to find a middle ground with Sinsegae Food, the student body has decided to create a “half-price food” alternative cafeteria in front of the main school cafeteria.
Comments from Daum:
First, it was “500”. As the student body protested, it became “1100”. The people who don’t understand the reason for protesting are the real “birdbrained monkeys”
Of all the things why bananas~~
The age of miscommunication, now it almost feels like miscommunication is becoming the hot new thing.
The school cafeteria is also Sinsegae Food, Everland…large corporations are taking everything. [Sinsegae and Everland are famous conglomerate brands]
Trickery. now Sinsegae is treating Sookmyung students like monkeys.
Sinsegae sees Sookymyung students as monkeys~~ and this is such a sensitive age for them~~ giving girls bananas, which could be misconstrued as sexual harassment~~They poured oil onto a house on fire~~
The Starbucks in front of Sookmyung serves coffee for twice the “half price”, and it is always overflowing with people ke ke
It’s not about the 200 won. Did they bribe the general student assembly? They didn’t give them enough money so they started a ruckus. Not all student governments are corrupt, but most of them are. They’re all trash and really don’t know what they’re doing. These guys, they say they love the students, but are they fucking developing the school at all? Each is worried about finding a job and still they chug ₩5~7000 Starbucks coffees without a second thought.
My sympathies to the students, but compared to outside campus, it’s still cheaper.
At Starbucks, if the price of coffee went up by 200 won they would all be talking about how the coffee suddenly tastes better. Haha You guys if the price didn’t go up by 200 won, the farmers would have had to swallow the difference. So just eat it~ and drink less coffee.
ke ke And then they go to Sinsegae [the department Store] and ask their boyfriends to buy some brand name items
Nowadays students are full of it… too busy trying to pad their resume to pay attention to politics, so they don’t care about politics… they are happy to drink their expensive coffee even if they have to starve themselves of food, …who can hope to take care of you?
all this protest while they drink a few cups of expensive coffee a day…