Storm in a teacup? Tempers flare online over coffee shop 'beggars' in South Korea

SEOUL (THE KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - An online commenter's criticism of the current cafe culture among teenagers, characterising teenagers as "more like beggars" has recently created a frenzy online.

The now-infamous post made Monday (Jan 15) on a well-known online community site, complained that teenagers hogged seats in cafes to study in groups without buying anything.

"I see so many teenagers, middle and high school students, coming to the cafe that I frequent," the post wrote.

"It's quite absurd to see them just sitting there in huge groups not ordering anything at all. Even if they are not wearing their school uniforms, I can tell that they are in middle school because they're working on their EBS assignments."

The post said that teenagers should not disturb other customers, and that they "talk obnoxiously in groups for hours without having coffee".

The person further described the students as being "beggars" and "very rude, (treating) the cafe as if it was their own living room."

It added that the "beggar culture" among teenagers extended to burger restaurants as well.

But the post caused a storm on Korean online communities, with commenters either taking sides with the writer of the post or with the teenagers.

There was considerable agreement that teenagers should be more considerate of other customers, but some questioned whether the critic was justified in criticising teenagers who study at cafes.

"We have the right to study and talk at cafes like other people," one teenager wrote. "You're not even the owner of the store, so why make such a fuss?"

Amid worsening youth employment conditions in South Korea, people studying at cafes have become a widespread complaint, but coffee and burger franchise stores in general have not taken measures to curb the so-called "beggar culture".