Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Taxes and Tipping, Korean Style

Knowing that I have the power to change the world in my fingertips as I write this blog, I hope that when the following information spreads net-wide, all my readers will use it for good and not evil.

In the U.S. we have become accustomed to roughly 9% taxes and %15 tips (or more) to our restaurant visits. That's a estimated minimum of 24% of your bill being money tacked on to the final tab. Following my math here? let's just say it's usually a fourth to a fifth of the tab, to allow for those cool states that only charge 7% tax.

Well, Korean servers are paid differently than they are in the U.S. Ergo, NO TIPPING!! And the price you see on the menu is the price you pay; nothing is added on.

Of course, according to Buddhism, money is the worst thing you can offer Budda. It's an abomination to him. Makes him feel like a cheap whore, if you wanna think in simplistic western terms about it. And most of Korea is Buddhist. Therefore they're viewpoint on money is a bit different from ours.

But how does this change one's service, you ask? Pfft!!! I had better service in Korea than I've ever had in the states, no offense to the good servers I've encountered stateside.

Koreans respect each other on a level that is not widely seen here. It does go back in part to Buddhism, simply stated however, Korea can be described as a country working the "Golden Rule" (you know the one: do unto others as you'd have them do unto you).

I fell asleep on a 4 hour train ride, with everything I owned in Korea above me on a luggage rack. The train was full, and there were multiple stops along the way. When I woke up, all my stuff was still up there, untouched. No one tried to take my stuff, even though I was a sleeping foreigner! In this country, I would've been an "easy mark".

Fortunately, I think that the Korean culture and society is strong enough not to collapse and become more westernized at my words. It wouldn't hurt my feelings if we stateside would consider them a bit deeper than a casual read and forget, and this is a fluffy version of all I could say on the subject.

Here we consider it a cultural custom to tip 15-20% for a job done, whether it was done adequately, poorly, or fantastically. It's a sign of respect for the server and the service. But prostitution is illegal except in Nevada. So selling yourself for money is okay as long as genetalia is involved. Some moral definer we have, huh?

Ooh, that was a little harsh of me.

Let me change directions while that one is still freshly stewing in your mind:

How might this country be economically affected if we changed our basic mindset towards each other and therefore our treatment of each other and inevitably our culture adjusted to reflect it? Oh, yes, I know I'm speaking of utopian things with no real chance for implementation, so please do not counter with a diatribe as to why it will not be. It's just a rhetorical question anyway.

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