The Korea Herald


Chinese restaurant ‘threatened’ by peers for free delivery

By Yoon Min-sik

Published : Oct. 24, 2023 - 13:13

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(Yogiyo) (Yogiyo)

An owner of a Chinese restaurant in Incheon claimed to have been threatened by nearby restaurant owners, who took issue with its free delivery policy.

According to the owner, who made his claims on his restaurant's page at a mobile delivery application, he has been receiving calls from a group calling itself “Jungsik Yeonhap," which translates as Chinese Restaurants Association.

The owner said the group demanded that he abolish the free delivery policy and raise his prices, or they would bombard the restaurant with bad reviews to drive him out of business.

“I plan to fight them. It makes no sense (for restaurant owners) to fix prices when the economy is so bad. The free delivery policy stays as long as I stay in business,” the owner wrote.

The restaurant based in Gyeyang-gu, Incheon, was listed as using its own employees to make deliveries, instead of using delivery services. The owner's claim, and the existence of the supposed association, have not been verified as of now, but it was confirmed that the restaurant does not charge delivery fees.

It is among the highest-rated Chinese restaurants in the area on the Yogiyo app, perhaps buoyed by the flurry of top-rated customer reviews posted since the owner made his claim.

Delivery fees, typically around 3,000 won ($2.25), are relatively new to Korea, but have attracted increased complaints since becoming near-ubiquitous in the late 2010s.

Surveys indicate that the majority of South Koreans think delivery fees are too high.

A June survey by SK Communication's poll service Nate Q asked 11,140 adults across the country about what they thought would be a proper charge for food delivery. About 38 percent said none, followed by 35 percent who answered 1,000 won to 2,000 won, and 20 percent who said 2,000 to 3,000 won.

The survey results showed severe disparity from what the delivery workers thought were proper fees. Delivery workers for food delivery app Baemin recently held a strike demanding the base fee be raised from 3,000 won to 4,000 won.

In the aforementioned survey, only 3 percent of the respondents said they were happy to pay 3,000 to 4,000 won per delivery.

In addition to the delivery fee debate, South Korean consumers have also been battling the import of the tip culture. Giving tips had not been a commonly practiced custom in the past, but a rising number of local businesses have been requesting them in the past few years.

Some consumers are opting for take-out to avoid delivery fees, but even that can be subject to charges. A few weeks earlier, an unidentified Twitter user posted a photo of a kiosk screen requesting a take-out fee, sparking yet another bout of online criticism.