저작권자 © Korea IT Times 무단전재 및 재배포 금지
The "Go-Dutch" drive launched last week by the Federation of Korean Industries (FKI), a chaebol lobby, is desirable in many ways. One might wonder why the FKI is initiating a belated campaign now, when the biggest family-controlled conglomerates, including Samsung, Daewoo and Doosan, are embroiled in controversy due to bribery, fraud and property claims. Still, late is better than never in rectifying the nation's problematic culture of wining and dining. Korea has paid in social costs for the outdated custom. Actually, a recent survey has found 57.6 percent of people pay for their own food and drinks at friendly meetings. The Dutch treat is more conspicuous among women and the younger generation. Shinsegae, one of the nation's largest department stores, reports its relationship with suppliers has sharply improved since the retailer introduced the system. At first, the mostly small- and mediumsized subcontractors of the luxurious seller had tried to pay everything until the store severed contracts with some suppliers. But the reduced entertainment expenses have in turn lowered the subcontractors' overall costs, which were reflected in the quality of supplied goods. It took four months for Shinsegae to establish the "new culture" of dining and wining on one's own expense. Now, the suppliers have more frequent meetings with their buyers without a "sense of burden." The retail chain is even disciplining employees who still try to treat their colleagues for hurting the company's "ethical management." Westerners might wonder what all this fuss is about. In a country where passing one's cost and responsibility to others has long been the norm, however, this is said easier than it is actually done. When this habit has grown to a national level, corruption is only a natural consequence. Nor does the business campaign need be limited to private firms. Directors at the Ministry of Planning and Budget, who have been used to being treated by other government agencies, recently declared early this year that they would be going Dutch. Koreans have long considered it natural for the heads of departments and seniors to treat their underlings and the younger people on their staff, even when these seniors' incomes are not much higher than others. And this leads to various irregularities and false accounting at business corporations, while making the communication oppressive and superficial. On a social level, paying their own bills can also reduce undue . and unrealistic - expectations of others. Also, one only needs to do his or her part rather than meddling in others' affairs.