“Meeting”, a group dinner initiated by the company, has become a Korean workplace culture.
Those who have watched Korean workplace dramas must be deeply impressed by their dinner parties. Workplace dinners are called “meeting meals” (??) by Koreans. There may be similar gatherings in workplaces in various countries. Colleagues get together to get acquainted with each other at the dinner table and enhance their relationship. However, there are many invisible rules in Korean food culture, and it is not simply to get together to eat and drink.
The process of drinking “three rounds”
So what is going on with the “meet food” in South Korea? “Meeting food” is a part of Korean workplace culture that cannot be ignored. First of all, this kind of group dinner is usually initiated by the company, not a few friends from the workplace meeting for dinner. It may be that the whole company or the whole department participates together, and the expenses can be reimbursed from the company’s public account. Different companies have different frequency of “eating meetings”. Generally speaking, it is once a month on average, but if the supervisor of the department is keen to have dinner with his subordinates, the frequency may not be once a week. When the migrant workers in South Korea finished their day of hard work, the leader ordered that the company will have a “eat dinner” tonight, and everyone knew in their hearts that a sleepless night had begun.
First of all, everyone comes to the first stop, which is usually a Korean food restaurant. Koreans call it once (??), which is the first round. The first round is equivalent to a simple warm-up, after which you cannot go home. Then change the venue for the second round, which is the second (??). The venue for the second round is generally a karaoke room, similar to our “KTV”. The well-developed entertainment industry has brought quite a lot of choices to the entertainment life of the Korean people. Singing and dancing the latest and hottest songs together has become a unique social means. In the karaoke room, drunken men and women began to let themselves go with the music. No matter how well they sang and danced, they could win the applause of their colleagues. At this time, even colleagues who don’t know each other well can hold hands and sing and dance together. After the second round, there will usually be a third (??), and the destination of the third round is not fixed. It may be to go to a bar, a nightclub, or to some small shops to drink some hangover soup. The first and second rounds are generally attended by most people, and the third round is organized by the department leaders themselves, and the expenses are also paid by the leaders. After the whole process was over, everyone was very drunk, and it would be dawn in a few hours.
The “food” in the “meeting” is not the key point, and drinking is the center of the whole activity. From beer and rice wine with a relatively refreshing taste, to some bitter shochu, to foreign wine and wine, they will all appear on the “meet food” table. Koreans also have various ways of drinking. They were not satisfied with only one kind of wine in the glass, so they invented “cannonball wine”. The reason why “cannonball wine” uses the word “cannonball” is mainly because it relies on shochu to activate the carbon dioxide in beer. Pour 1/3 of the shochu into the soju glass, and throw the shochu glass directly into the 3/5 full beer glass. The moment it falls in, the beer will be stirred up with countless bubbles, creating an effect like a bomb exploding.
There are more than thirty different types of cannonball wine in Korea. A small glass of soju mixed with a large glass of beer is called a “grenade”, and a small glass of whiskey in a large glass is called a “neutral bomb”. In order to make the taste of cannonball wine better, they also turned up various tricks, such as pouring Coke and soju into a small glass in the order of first cola and then soju, and then filling the remaining space with beer. Because after tasting the bitterness of soju and beer, the sweetness of cola will fill the tongue, so this wine has a very characteristic name, which is “sweetness after bitterness”. In addition to paying attention to taste, they also enhanced the ornamental value of “cannonball wine”, “golf” is one of them. First line up the half-full beer glasses, and then place the half-filled soju glasses at the junction of the two beer glasses. Next, use chopsticks like swinging a golf club, and hit the upper layer of soju hard, so that the soju glass falls into the beer glass like dominoes. In fact, the amount of alcohol in the wine glass and the proportion of different drinks are not fixed, and are generally determined by the highest leader on the wine table. This right is also called “drinking right” (??) by Koreans.
When the atmosphere on the wine table is mature, there is a fixed program, which is to turn the wine glass (????). Generally, the superior fills the wine glass and passes it to the subordinate after drinking part of it. The subordinate turns the wine glass in one direction and finishes drinking, fills it up again and passes it to the next person repeatedly, until the wine glass is passed back to the superior who first poured the wine. The wine cup culture is said to have existed since the Silla Dynasty a thousand years ago, and it originated between the king and his servants. Koreans see this as a sign of increased collective consciousness, and exchanging wine glasses increases a sense of togetherness. Turning the wine glass at the “meeting” is more like an act of forcing the other party to drink. The principle is that the subordinate cannot refuse the wine poured by the superior. This “invisible rule” is to give the superior enough face.
The new attitude of “meeting food”
This also has to mention the workplace culture of Korean juniors and superiors. This culture is fully reflected on the wine table. First of all, you can’t pour wine for yourself, you can only pour wine for each other. If you are pouring wine for your superior, you must hold the wine bottle in one hand and the opponent’s wine glass in the other. When the superior pours wine to the subordinate, the subordinate must bend down and wait, and then raise the glass with both hands or hold the glass with the other hand. When drinking, subordinates must use one hand to block their wine glasses, and turn their faces away when necessary, so that the other party cannot see themselves drinking. For people who love to drink and liven up, such an event sounds very interesting. But in South Korea, there are not a few people who oppose the “meeting” culture.
The South Korean news media conducted a survey on the “meeting” culture, and the results showed that: 30.4% of people think that “meeting” is needed in the workplace, and 38.7% of people do not have a strong sense of rejection. People who think “meeting” is not necessary. Accounting for 30.8%, it seems that the majority of people are not too disgusted with this, but what is interesting is that 49% of the leaders think that the workplace “cannibalism” is necessary, and only 16% of the leaders think that the workplace “cannibalism” is unnecessary. Among ordinary employees, only 27% think it is necessary to “eat food” in the workplace, 40% are neutral, and the remaining 33% think it is not necessary. From the perspective of age, more than half of the working people in their 40s and 50s have chosen that it is necessary to eat, and only 22% of people in their 20s and 30s have chosen it. Among young people under the age of 20, 40% are opposed to “meeting food”, 60% are neutral, and no one thinks “meeting food” is necessary in the workplace.
It can be seen that different positions and different ages have different attitudes towards “eclipse”. Because South Korea has a strict distinction between high and low positions, it is difficult for low-level office workers to refuse the request of their superiors. Almost all Korean men in the workplace have served in the military, and they have formed the habit of unconditionally obeying their superiors in the army, and this atmosphere has naturally been brought into the workplace. No matter how big or small the official rank is, even in front of the smallest team leader, he must be respectful. The seniors are forced to drink alcohol, but the juniors can only accept it, no matter how bad the drinking capacity is, they cannot refuse. This has also become an important reason why Koreans hate the “meeting” culture. And there are many rules restricting the juniors at the wine table, and one must keep a low profile throughout the night. In the workplace, you need to deal with leaders. This sense of oppression brought by different levels will be extended after get off work, which makes many young people feel suffocated.
The time of “eating” also makes people in the workplace dissatisfied. The company often chooses to have dinner at night on weekdays, which leads to everyone having to drag their tired bodies to work the next day when they drink until the early hours of the morning. If you choose a Friday night, it may irritate everyone even more. Because Koreans attach great importance to Friday night, they call it “Fiery Friday Night” or “Fire Five” (??). Because this evening you don’t have to worry about having to work the next day, or that the weekend is coming to an end. So Friday night is a time for Korean professionals to put down their work and release their stress. If such a beautiful night was arranged for a “meeting”, it would be no different from working overtime. Of course, there is no explicit regulation in the company that requires employees to participate in the “meeting meeting”, but if you have hope for promotion or want to create better performance, it is best not to be absent.
At the same time, most of the sexual harassment suffered by women in the workplace occurs during the “meeting”. In order to keep their jobs and maintain the normal operation of social life, usually female employees can only suffer in silence. Some victims said: “I don’t know how to drink, but if I don’t drink during company dinners, my boss will touch me and even be followed.” In the company, because everything is exposed to the sun, sexual harassment in the workplace Enforcement won’t be easy, but the nighttime symposium provides a breeding ground for sexual harassment. In dim light, amidst loud music, unconsciousness becomes an excuse for impropriety.
Because of the outbreak of the epidemic, Koreans suddenly began to reflect on the workplace culture of “meeting food”. With the spread of the new crown pneumonia epidemic in South Korea, the social ban issued by the government includes the prohibition of indoor multi-person gatherings, and many dining and entertainment venues have also been forced to close down. This brought the “meeting” behavior to an abrupt end. Some Koreans said in an interview: This policy has brought good changes to their lives. Finally, I can enjoy a good night alone without having to deal with social problems in the workplace after finishing a day’s work.
But Koreans don’t entirely think the existence of “symbiosis” is meaningless. In the survey conducted by Korean news media, 54.9% of the people believed that “meeting food” can promote harmony among colleagues and is a suitable occasion for communication. When the government ordered the normal operation of society to resume, some workplace leaders expressed that they were very happy to put the “meeting meeting” back on the agenda, and they could finally communicate with team members. Because during the period when the social ban was issued, he clearly felt that the gap between himself and his young subordinates was getting deeper and deeper. It is not difficult to understand why this workplace culture will not disappear easily even if many young people do not agree with it.
Different positions and different ages have different attitudes towards “eclipse”. Because South Korea has a strict distinction between high and low positions, it is difficult for low-level office workers to refuse the request of their superiors.
Finally, the researchers also investigated how to improve the “symbiosis” culture. Only 3.1% of people want to completely eliminate the “cannibalism” culture. 23.3% of people think that only some special parts of the “meeting” culture need to be adjusted, such as not having dinner together on weekday evenings, or not centering on drinking. 17.7% of people think that activities can be changed into cultural and sports activities, such as bowling, watching movies, watching dramas, drinking coffee, playing billiards, etc. They believe that activities without alcohol participation can also play a role in strengthening team cohesion and increasing communication between employees. 44.2% of people think that if they have a “meeting” at lunch time, they can avoid the situation of drinking round after round. It can be seen that alcohol and inappropriate time are the main reasons why Koreans hate the “meeting” culture. Everyone hopes to have some private time for themselves after busy work. It is hoped that all companies can respect employees’ desire to have personal free time, especially in the matter of “meeting”, it would be very appropriate to discuss with employees in advance.
With the changes of the times, Koreans’ cognition and views on the workplace are also changing. Especially under the catalysis of the epidemic, people began to reflect on whether there is room for improvement in the “meeting food” culture, hoping that it can advance together with the development of the times.