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Guess I won’t be eating at the Shilla Hotel anytime soon…

So, according to the Kyunghyang Shinmun, well-known hanbok designer Lee Hye-sun went to the Shilla Hotel’s buffet restaurant Tuesday evening for a dinner appointment.

The staff, however, didn’t let her in. You see, they explained, our restaurant has a dress code, and the hanbok isn’t allowed. When asked why, they said the hanbok is dangerous — because it’s got a good deal of volume, it could disturb other people.

So, Lee left the place and headed home, but on the way, she called up the hotel again to reconfirm the dress code. Sure enough, the hotel responded it doesn’t let in people wearing hanbok or gym clothes.

Lee responded as any of us would — be posting it on the Twitter news site Wikitree. Needless to say, the netizens were not amused, and that very evening, the hotel said it would begin letting the hanbok-clad into their restaurants. Lee, though, asked Wednesday morning why anyone would push the globalization of Korean food when the hotel’s Korean restaurant has been shut down, hanbok-wearing people are being turned away at the door and the hanbok is being treated like a gym suit. Until the hotel’s CEO went on record with the hotel’s official policy, she would not believe what the hotel says.

The president of the Shilla is, of course, Lee Boo-jin, the eldest daughter of Samsung Group chairman Lee Kun-hee. In fact, according to the Kyunghyang, Lee celebrated his 70th birthday at the hotel in January in an event in which his wife did wear a hanbok.

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  • http://hunjang.blogspot.com Antti

    This is a f****ng unbelievable piece of news. By the way, Lee Bu-jin wore hanbok in a wedding in the Dynasty Hall of her hotel also in last November. Apparently Ms Lee wears hanboks that do not cause disturbance to other hotel guests, which shows true character.

  • hamel

    Well that just about takes the 떡… sorry, cake.

    It amazes me that somebody (이부진? probably rather a mid-level manager, no?) actually sat down and thought about this and decided “no, 한복 are out!” That is absolutely staggering. Surely they could have foreseen this kind of shitstorm when somebody famous DID show up in a 한복??

    I mean really, if the Royal Family are allowed to wear it in the hotel, why not the commoners? I would love to interview the people who made and approved the dress code. Wow.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/sby/ MaxC

    I went to the Shilla for the lunch buffet wearing hanbok last year! I didn’t get thrown out, but I was made to feel very uncomfortable — it was clear to me that the staff were not happy about it.

  • Hamilton

    Too bad Andre Kim passed away. He was a force of nature, I don’t think anyone would have the guts to try and stop him.

  • Railwaycharm

    This is disappointing. Koreans need to celebrate the finest things of their culture. This is not accomplished with self loathing and denial of their past. My countrymen came to America with buckles on their hats, you don’t see Amreicans hiding it!

  • Railwaycharm

    Americans

  • SomeguyinKorea

    Telling a well-known hanbok designer that she can’t wear one? Obsolutely ridiculous. The double-standard adds insult to injury.

  • http://www.chiamattt.com chiamattt

    What an odd rule.

  • Fullslab

    Simple answer, BOYCOT Samsung products!

  • gbnhj

    Yes, yes, outlawing hanbok is an embarrassment – but what about gym wear? How dare they outlaw the traditional attire of The Jersey Shore!

  • seouldout

    I wonder whether kimonos are permissible.

  • R. Elgin

    Lee Kun-hee should issue Lee Hye-sun a pardon. I hear he has a few extra left over.

  • Jieun K

    Two civilizations collide and han·bok takes a back seat to yang·bok. Times indeed change.

    And you are baffled by all the motley incongruities left in the wake of the long-lost battle.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com setnaffa

    Maybe if your hanbok is one of the fancier ones it makes a difference?

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    Hilarious… great post.

  • http://nathanbauman.com/odysseus NathanB

    What an absolutely ridiculous decision by the Shilla Hotel.

  • hamel

    Here’s an idea: why don’t we get a bunch of non-Korean peoples wearing their finest Hanbok to go up to the Shilla hotel buffet?
    I’m in. Marmot?

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    MaxC,

    Hate to say this, but the reason you were not kicked out might have been because you were white. However, true to what hamel says, I’d be interested to know what the restaurant staff would do if there were five or more white people attempting to come in wearing hanboks.

  • lastnamekim

    Just to clarify: they won’t let you in the Shilla hotel’s buffet restaurant wearing a hanbok…not other areas of the hotel, right? I think some of the posters were confused….or maybe I am. If that’s the case, maybe they had an incident in the past where somebody wearing a hanbok was stuffing buffet food under the dress. =)

  • cm

    OK, this thread is getting hilarious.

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    maybe they had an incident in the past where somebody wearing a hanbok was stuffing buffet food under the dress. =)

    Sounds like something my mom would do… zing!

  • DLBarch

    Knowing what we know about how these kinds of policies come into being, I think it’s safe to say that Shilla has had some issues with hanbok-wearing patrons long before it implimented its hanbok ban.

    Whenever you hear a story of some boneheaded rule, there’s usually some boneheaded incident, complaint, or litigation that preceded it.

    DLB

  • iMe

    has nothing to do with this thread so i apologize for hijacking it, but i thought some people here would benefit from watching this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9GdhGX9ELJI&feature=related

    +1 for multicultiuralism!

  • bumfromkorea

    The Shilla management did say that they had problems with patrons wearing hanbok getting their clothes caught on the tables/containers and other people tripping on them. I understand why they had this rule, but it is pretty stupid; having the people at front politely asking the hanbok-wearing customers to exercise caution in those regards would have been a much more sensible approach.

  • http://nathanbauman.com/odysseus NathanB

    Great idea, Hamel! I would certainly be in if I were in the area right now. Hopefully some Koreans will get a similar idea; there could be a “flash mob” of hanbok-wearing people, all being civilized, of course, but making a statement just the same. If there were some hanbok-clad “foreigners” in there, so much the better.

  • http://adamsawry.wordpress.com Adams-awry

    Out of nothing but interest, I ask Nathan B: why you put quotes around flash mob and foreigners? Eh?
    Out of nought but a desire to tease, I tell Hamel: Hanbok Manfrock.
    Out of only a desire to know, I enquire of Bobcat K: Yo Bobcat! I note that when the Proles comment on blog posts, we can see what time they do so. But what about the Quality? I’d like to know what time you hit ‘send’ when you start a new topic. Any chance of that?

  • yuna

    What I want to know is why “buffet” for “dinner” is still seen as something fancy and is done/offered by fancy hotels in Korea. Shouldn’t they have cottoned onto the fact by now that “fancy”+”eat as much as you want” is not a feasible combination?

  • yuna

    #11 I’m sure kimonos(and not yukata) are permissible because they don’t get in the way as much and anyway it’s difficult to eat anything dressed in one (as a woman)

    I think hanbok looks better on Paris or Britney i.e. Western women than the kimono..I think petite suits better for a kimono..

  • yuna

    Seriously, if I were Lee Boojin, I would just close off the buffet restaurant.. Boggles the mind, the picture of having to hold on to chimajogori with one hand and pile up the food with another paying 100 dollars plus.

  • http://www.sperwerslog.com Sperwer

    Here’s an idea: why don’t we get a bunch of non-Korean peoples wearing their finest Hanbok to go up to the Shilla hotel buffet?
    I’m in. Marmot?

    Good to go, too. Once went to a room salon w/ 20 (white) guys and not only were we not turned away, we were applauded by bystanders on the street on the way in and had even more fun than usual. My dry cleaner did ask where I’d been wearing it though.

  • cmm

    sperwered.

  • DLBarch

    Thinking about this a little more, I gotta agree with Yuna here. Aren’t buffets sorta declasse to begin with? Who’d actually wear a hanbok to one?

    Of course, they’re still all the rage in Vegas, which pretty much sums up all you really need to know about the class of folks who feed at their troughs.

    DLB

  • yuna

    Aren’t buffets sorta declasse to begin with? Who’d actually wear a hanbok to one?

    Buffet Dinner falls under one of those things which Korea in its development/modernization process *never got the memo* from the rest of the world..Surely the daughter of Samsung should know this, it’s a great opportunity for her to let the rest of the population know.

  • 8675309

    Buffet Dinner falls under one of those things which Korea in its development/modernization process *never got the memo* from the rest of the world…

    Unfortunately, dlb and Yuna are the kind of status-conscious uppity snobs who would never deign to enjoy one of life’s simpler pleasures like the $17.95 all-you-can-eat galbi buffet in Chicago Koreatown. Too bad. Your loss is our gain. (And yes, people do wear hanboks to such places — mostly weddings though.)

  • http://www.sperwerslog.com Sperwer

    Thanks CMM. Want to know my colors, so you can get one of those Kogal cheerleader skirts with the corrrectly colored stripes? ;))

  • http://www.sperwerslog.com Sperwer

    Thanks CMM. Want to know my colors, so you can get one of those Kogal cheerleader skirts with the corrrectly colored stripes? ;))

  • Maximus2008

    Closing the Shilla buffet will be a crime. Let it exist, with our without hanbok.

    Buffet restaurants are always great: you eat a lot and, usually, there’s a good cost-benefit there. Quality is so-so in most of them but, hey, it’s a buffet…

    The problem in Korea is that people are desperate: they can’t realize that the food is not going to disappear. Why do you have to put 45 shrimps (prawns to some of you) on your plate at once? Why do you have to cut in front of someone to ensure your 24 pieces of sushi are guaranteed? Can’t you come back later for more? Don’t you understand that the food will be replaced?

    And what someone said above about hiding food is not untrue. People put in their bags all sort of things, like water bottles, cookies, cheese, fruits, anything that won’t melt. For me is pretty clear that the food there is to be eaten in the restaurant. Yuna, this is the memo that Korea didn’t get in its development/modernization process.

  • yuna

    Nothing wrong with wearing anything you want anywhere, but the whole point is that Shilla Hotel Buffet is precisely *for* those status-conscious uppity snobs so that’s why it’s funny..it’s like the Korean apartment decked with rococo reproduction furniture in the 90′s.

  • yuna

    #37 Surprisingly this behaviour is not restricted to the Koreans, it’s also the highly educated German professors who should have enough of an annual income not to cut in and take all the free food at conferences, and leave the poor students with nothing.
    All the Italians at these meetings were shocked, because this was only to be expected in their own country..

  • silver surfer

    While we’re sending memos, can somebody let the Hyatt hotel know that hiring professional musicians to play frikkin’ elevator music in their lobby lounge is extremely tacky?

  • pawikirogii

    ‘And what someone said above about hiding food is not untrue. People put in their bags all sort of things, like water bottles, cookies, cheese, fruits, anything that won’t melt. For me is pretty clear that the food there is to be eaten in the restaurant. Yuna, this is the memo that Korea didn’t get in its development/modernization process.’

    same thing happens here in the states. memo, my ass!

  • cmm

    @39 and 41 thanks for adding the much needed balance here.

    Just as good as hiding food and taking it home, is hiding food (or booze) FROM home and taking it into places where it is sold for a much higher price (movies, MLB ball parks, etc.). Guilty.

  • Darth Babaganoosh

    If that’s the case, maybe they had an incident in the past where somebody wearing a hanbok was stuffing buffet food under the dress. =)

    Now, now… the Shilla hotel is not CostCo, and I’m sure they serve better fare than free onions and ketchup.

  • slim

    In my experience, and I’m not a buffet fan, the only place with sharper buffet elbows than Korea is China.

  • cmm

    @35 and @36

    I’m always happy to cheer you on, but I don’t have the figure for the Kogal cheerleader get-ups. Surely you’d prefer a female in one anyway, no?

  • http://www.sperwerslog.com Sperwer

    Roger that, LOL.

  • Wedge

    #42: Ever smuggled Heinie bottles into J.J.’s?

  • cmm

    @47 I don’t fuck around, I take vodka.

  • http://www.sperwerslog.com Sperwer

    I’m a Hennesy guy myself – just like KJI. LOL

  • cmm

    Similar in alcohol content. I approve. I also approve of the fact you’d be sneaking in, “The Good Stuff.”

    To be honest, on the occasions that I’ve popped into J.J.’s, I usually end up hating everyone there and actually all of humanity. The live band, though passably decent, is not enough to make up for this. Too bad too, because there’s a lot of tail in there.

  • http://www.sperwerslog.com Sperwer

    Ditto. Same as I generally don’t like golf, because i generally don’t like the people who golf – partivularly in Korea.

  • hamel

    Now, now… the Shilla hotel is not CostCo, and I’m sure they serve better fare than free onions and ketchup.

    Don’t forget the mustard, Darth.

    Can we who have visited Costco in Korea please have a moment’s silence (or a collective sigh) for all the thousands of kilograms of free onions, ketchup and mustard that we have witnessed eaten like a travesty of a salad in the Costco food courts? (And for those who have participated in the grab for grub, smile knowingly.)

  • gbnhj

    The thing I find amazing about all the people eating ‘condiment entrées’ at Costco is not the massive quantities that they consume, or the sheer number who do it. After all, people like what they like, and Korean shoppers at Costco obviously love the condiment entrée. Onions, ketchup, mustard, and pickle relish – not my idea of a meal, but everyone’s free to choose. Yet all these items are available for purchase at Costco, yet the same folks who will eat a plate of goo every time they visit the Costco cafeteria never buy that crap and take it home. Now, that’s just being cheap to point of stupidity.

  • gbnhj

    Yet all these items are available for purchase at Costco, yet the same folks who will eat a plate of goo every time they visit the Costco cafeteria never buy that crap and take it home.

    Yet even though all these items are available for purchase at Costco, the same folks who eat a plate of goo every time they visit the Costco cafeteria never buy any of that crap and take it home.

  • tatertot

    Yet even though all these items are available for purchase at Costco, the same folks who eat a plate of goo every time they visit the Costco cafeteria never buy any of that crap and take it home.

    I had never thought about this at all until you mentioned it. It is pretty ridiculous if these people never eat the onion, mustard and ketchup mixture at home…because if so, presumably, they don’t actually like it. But hey, if it’s free, right?

  • SomeguyinKorea

    #34,

    My favorite part about Korean weddings are the old ladies who won’t shut up during the ceremony because they are just there for the buffet.

  • SomeguyinKorea

    #53,

    What takes the cake are the ladies who bring every Costco cafeteria cup they’ve ever used in order to them fill up with ketchup and mustard to bring home. Yeah, some people really have no class.

  • Railwaycharm

    You all sound surprised? You all have lived long enough in Korea to understand Korean culture? Most of us on this post have not had family members who had to eat grass or G.I. garbage soup to survive. (Budea Chiggea)
    You all should be ashamed of yourselves. You all need to take a step back and count your blessings. Obama is not asking for your gold wedding bands. Shame on you

  • http://hojupjimong.wordpress.com/ JiMong

    “방사능도 안전하고…침출수도 안전하고… 물대포 음향대포도 안전하고…미국산 쇠고기와 삼성반도체공장도 안전하고… 다 안전한데… 한복만 위험하구나…”

    “The level of radiation is SAFE … leaking leachate from the burial sites of foot-and-mouth disease is SAFE … water cannon and acoustic cannon are SAFE… U.S. Beef and Samsung Electronics’ semiconductor factory are SAFE …Everything is SAFE … But only “Hanbok “is DANGEROUS … ”
    from Twitter timeline

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