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Ask a Foreigner!

November 30, 2010

Hello All,

I rarely buy makeup. As long as my skin situation is on point, all is glory. However, I do like to have a full brow and yesterday I ran out of my favorite eyebrow pencil. As I walked up to the counter to buy said pencil today, ok, let me set the scene…A beautiful department store, all the top global beauty brands on display as well as some of the greatest fashion houses: Hermes, Gucci, Prada, Louis Vuitton (you get the point), Customer service is perfection, makes walking into Bergdorf Goodman feel like Walmart. Ok ready? So I walk up to the counter, the beautiful young saleswoman knows the exact color of the pencil I need without me telling her (perfect) but I find myself completely put off with the glaring music that accompanies this purchase. Why in the name of all that is decent and good in Korea do I have to listen to DMX shouting “N*gger this, N*&ger that while I’m in such a gorgeous setting with the best saleswoman since forever? I told them that the song they were playing was a horrible song, saying horrible things, and that they should not play such a song in a department store or anywhere else for that matter.

I don’t use that word and definitely don’t expect to hear it when I’m abroad shopping, exercising at my gym (yes, it happened there too, but they changed it after I explained how offensive it was) . I really am thinking of talking to someone in charge about it tomorrow. I know for sure that this brand would not and does not play this kind of music in the States (where it has cult status) so why are they playing it here? Could it be that they really don’t know what is being said, what it conveys? Don’t they have a consulting team for this kind of stuff?

What do you think I should do?
What would you do?

6 Comments leave one →
  1. December 1, 2010 2:59 AM

    I think you handled it really well. It seems like it’s just a matter of educating people, and I’m sure the people you spoke to were embarrassed and won’t ever forget it.

  2. December 1, 2010 12:54 PM

    Funny you mention that, I have similar experience. Here in Denmark there are 7-11s abound, but they aren’t like the grimy ones we’re familiar with in the States that reek of stale coffee and depression. No, these are compact, well organized, impeccably tidy and sell fresh fruits/goods that actually do not appear to be riddled with SARS and everything else under the sun. How they also differ, is that owners/manager are allowed to hook up their ipods a blast their playlists. Cool, right? No! They’re always playing rap. I can hardly understand why. DMX’S angry rhymes are so contrary to the pleasant atmosphere, and I won’t even get started on JaRule singing, “All I wanted was my baybeh.” All he should want is some eucalyptus tea with an extra helping of honey; why is his voice so harsh?! Makes me thirsty just thinking about it… Actually, now that I think about it, it’s a rather brilliant ploy. Beverage sales must increase two or threefold with that rubbish on.

    Anyhow, like you I spoke up, and while the clerk agreed it was inappropriate, the situations was out of their hands.

  3. December 1, 2010 4:02 PM

    @ Jospehine,

    You are always in my corner and I thank you for that, especially with this one. If I walk through the department store today and hear it again. I will speak with Management about the music and leave it alone.

    @Joyous Abroad: THIS. RIGHT. HERE! You made me laugh OUT LOUD, very LOUDLY. I couldn’t stop, a colleague of mine came out of his office to see what I found so amusing. Thank you, you have made my day and the day isn’t even over yet. Feel better!

  4. December 1, 2010 10:27 PM

    There’s definitely a bizarre cultural exchange in Asia with American hip-hop culture. It begins with the music and the lyrics to the clothes to the hair to the assumed attitudes… I really liked this article from about the topic, and the discussion is pretty hefty. Honestly, I believe the root of the problem lies in the language of the original lyrics – I’m with Oprah on omitting the use of the n-word, “bitch,” etc. from being used in rap lyrics. Of course, this isn’t a really helpful statement as it does nothing to remedy real world situations.

    If the brand you’re mentioning is MAC, then I have to say that the counter in Atlanta plays all sorts of bizarre playlists. I think it’s dependent on the workers and their preferences.

    But for Seoul, I feel like most Seoul-ites are pretty sensitive to their customer’s complaints and would take into consideration what you might say to them.

  5. December 2, 2010 11:28 AM

    I’m glad you told them that the songs were inappropriate. Korea has a tendency to consider anything from the US to be “popular” or “in.” But sometimes it’s pretty bad when they don’t know the difference between appropriate and inappropriate since they don’t understand what its saying. I’m korean myself and I’m sometimes disappointed when I see English cuss words on clothes and in public. However, I’m glad you told the sales people since modern Koreans do have a really good business system in providing the best for their customers, especially foreigners. So I’m sure they’ll take it into consideration.

  6. December 2, 2010 11:46 AM

    Thank you for commenting. I’m sure that they will take into consideration. I haven’t returned to the store yet, but will probably have to buy something there before the week is through. Customer service is paramount here in Korea, so I’d be very surprised to hear that crazy music again.

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