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Lesson Transcript

Gyeongeun: 안녕하세요. KoreanClass101.com입니다.
Hyunwoo: Hello, everyone. Welcome to Koreanclass101.com’s Korean Culture Class, Lesson #26 – Family Restaurants in Korea. My name is Hyunwoo Sun and I’m joined in the studio by?
Gyeongeun: Hi. I’m Gyeongeun.
Hyunwoo: 안녕하세요, 경은씨.
Gyeongeun: 네. 안녕하세요, 현우씨.
Hyunwoo: 네, 잘 지냈어요?
Gyeongeun: 네, 잘 지냈죠.

Lesson focus

Hyunwoo: So today I would like to talk a little bit about family restaurants with you.
Gyeongeun: Wow.
Hyunwoo: Family restaurants. Do you like them?
Gyeongeun: I used to love them when I was young, but these days I don’t go very often. What about you?
Hyunwoo: Me? I never go, unless someone asks me to go.
Gyeongeun: Why?
Hyunwoo: Because they’re too expensive.
Gyeongeun: Yes, that’s true.
Hyunwoo: But before we go into more detail, how do you say a “family restaurant” in Korean?
Gyeongeun: 패밀리레스토랑
Hyunwoo: Yes. The term 패밀리레스토랑 was coined into the Korean language about ten years ago or so along with its concept of course.
Gyeongeun: Yes, and for a long time it was considered to be a luxury to go to family restaurants.
Hyunwoo: Yes, because they’re expensive, right?
Gyeongeun: Yes, too expensive.
Hyunwoo: Yes, and it is still considered to be a luxury going to one, right?
Gyeongeun: Yes, but more and more people are going.
Hyunwoo: Yes. I guess people have grown used to the average price of a meal in family restaurants.
Gyeongeun: And they’re really popular these days, too.
Hyunwoo: Yes, but at first I couldn’t really understand why people were going to family restaurants because they were so expensive.
Gyeongeun: That’s true, but some Korean restaurants can be expensive, too.
Hyunwoo: You’re right. I mean, if you go to some 삼겹살 place, or other types of meat restaurants, you can end up paying a similar amount of money, but in 패밀리레스토랑, it feels different. It’s just one steak, one spaghetti, one salad, and that’s it.
Gyeongeun: Yes. And the drinks are really expensive, too.
Hyunwoo: Yes, one glass of Coke can be 4,000 won and a cup of juice can be 6,000 won, and with 6,000 won you can even pay for a meal in a regular 식당 “restaurant.” So 경은씨, how much is a meal in a family restaurant in Korea?
Gyeongeun: Well, this is between 20,000 won and 30,000 won and a drink is usually 4,000 won to 6,000 won.
Hyunwoo: Yes. And the prices are basically similar in most of the family restaurants, right?
Gyeongeun: Yes, right.
Hyunwoo: So since you used to love family restaurants, what are some popular family restaurants in Korea?
Gyeongeun: TGI 프라이데이, 베니건스, 아웃백 and 빕스.
Hyunwoo: Yes, the first three of them are foreign chains, right?
Gyeongeun: Yes. And 빕스 VIPS is a Korean brand.
Hyunwoo: Yes. Actually, my sister used to work at a VIPS restaurant for a hard time job when she was in college, and it’s very, very popular, too.
Gyeongeun: Yes, it’s one of the most successful Korean family restaurant chains in Korea.
Hyunwoo: Yes. There’re a few others, but VIPS was successful because it is actually a buffet type.
Gyeongeun: Yes. If it’s a buffet, people feel like they can eat more, so the price feels cheaper.
Hyunwoo: That’s true. Well, back to the quality of the service, in Korea, when you say that the service is good, 서비스가 좋다, what are you actually referring to?
Gyeongeun: Well, usually, people say 서비스가 좋다 if the restaurant gives them a lot of food.
Hyunwoo: Whether it is some more dishes, or a free drink, or a refill, when you get more for the same amount of money that you pay, Korean people say 서비스가 좋다.
Gyeongeun: Yes. When I want to say that people serving in the restaurant are nice and the service that I received at the restaurant was good, I say 식당 직원들이 친절하다.
Hyunwoo: Yes. So literally, you’re saying that they are kind or nice, and you’re not talking about the quality of the service. You don’t literally mention that the service is good because service being good in the Korean sense, it means they give you a lot of free food.
Gyeongeun: Yes, and refill or something like that.
Hyunwoo: Refill, yes. So basically you get more for the same amount of money. So what that means is that the good service that family restaurants provide wasn’t what Korean people, most Korean people, were asking for.
Gyeongeun: Yes. So it was something new for most people, especially young people.
Hyunwoo: Yes. So when I first went to a family restaurant and saw that the servers were good or really, really, really nice and extremely polite, I felt a bit uncomfortable and didn’t know what to do. They are the same age as me and they are not younger than me or anything. They’re very, very, very polite to me.
Gyeongeun: But girls love that. And not only girls, but also guys. I think they eventually realized that family restaurants are good places to go if they want to stay in one place for a long time.
Hyunwoo: Yes, that’s true. When I sometimes choose to go to one of these family restaurants, most of the time it’s because I want to find a place where I can take my time, you know, and after the meal… Normally if I go to other regular restaurants, if I need to continue the conversation, I need to walk again and find a café or some other place, so… In family restaurants, you don’t have to do that. You can order one more coffee and then stay there for many hours. I mean, of course, it’s not so bad to walk, move to another place, for some fresh air, but sometimes it’s better to just stay at one place.
Gyeongeun: You’re right. It’s a good dating place, too.
Hyunwoo: Well, for men, since usually men pay…
Gyeongeun: Yes, it’s expensive for men.
Hyunwoo: It’s an expensive dating place as well.
Gyeongeun: Yes, right. Sometimes I go to a family restaurant to see the handsome server, actually. Sometimes…
Hyunwoo: I see. I see. Well, actually, when a guy goes out with a younger girl, it’s really, really difficult for him to ask her to pay as well, right?
Gyeongeun: Yes.
Hyunwoo: So it’s usually the men who has to open their wallets and pay money.
Gyeongeun: That’s the reason you never go there.
Hyunwoo: That’s the reason I never ask anyone to go with me to a family restaurant, unless the other person wants to go with me.
Gyeongeun: Okay.
Hyunwoo: 경은씨, I have a question.
Gyeongeun: Okay. What is it?
Hyunwoo: Have you ever been to a very, very unfriendly family restaurant?
Gyeongeun: No, I don’t think so.
Hyunwoo: I have.
Gyeongeun: Really?
Hyunwoo: Yes. And when I was eating there, I saw this huge difference between some nicer family restaurants where the service was good, in literal sense, and this place where the service wasn’t really good, and I could really see that these people who are working there weren’t really used to the concept of being very polite to the customers and providing good service that fits the amount of money that they get. So they were providing the same kind of service that I would get in a regular, normal, cheap restaurant in some other places and they were clearly thinking that the food that they were serving was expensive because of the food itself.
Gyeongeun: Oh. Really?
Hyunwoo: Not because of the service that they provide, right?
Gyeongeun: What do you mean?
Hyunwoo: Don’t you think that the price includes the good service that they have to provide to the customers? You don’t think so?
Gyeongeun: I don’t think so.
Hyunwoo: Maybe that’s what they were thinking.
Gyeongeun: Well, I’ve never thought about it because in all the places that I’ve been to, people were really, really nice to me, so…
Hyunwoo: I see. Maybe that’s because you are very beautiful.
Gyeongeun: Thank you.
Hyunwoo: But… Well, what I’m trying to say is the concept of providing this good kind service to the customers in restaurants, wasn’t really the norm everywhere in Korea, but since the concept of family restaurants came into Korea, people started providing, and also receiving this good service from the servers who were trained to be nice to the customers, rather than deciding on their own that they should be nice to these customers. So I think it’s really interesting because in other regular cheap restaurants all the 아줌마, 아저씨 there or the 아가씨 or 형 or 아르바이트 학생 “part-timer students,” they behave almost the same way as they would outside the restaurant. So I think it’s very interesting.
Gyeongeun: Well, since I’ve been to only nice restaurants, let’s ask our listeners about their own experiences.


Hyunwoo: Okay, that a very good idea. So everyone, if you’ve been to a family restaurant in Korea, like TGI 프라이데이, 베니건스, 아웃백, especially because you have them in your own countries, as well, please come to Koreanclass101.com and share your opinions about it.
Gyeongeun: Leave us a comment.
Hyunwoo: Yes, please. Let us know if you found an atmosphere in family restaurants in Korea, different from that of family restaurants in your countries. So we will see you at Koreanclass101.com and 경은씨, 수고하셨어요.
Gyeongeun: 네, 수고하셨습니다.
Hyunwoo: See you next time.
Gyeongeun: 안녕히 계세요.
Hyunwoo: 네.