Starbucks Korea has recently offered coffee in reusable cups, attracting so many customers. The event prompted Starbucks employees to organize truck demonstrations in Seoul. Photo courtesy of Starbucks Korea

Employees complain about workload

Employees of Starbucks Korea expressed their complaints against the company’s frequent customer events on Oct. 7 and 8 by mobilizing trucks in Seoul.

They criticized that Starbucks Korea treats them in an inhumane way through the unprecedented truck demonstration. The company does not have a trade union.

The trucks showed a message, which read, “Starbucks employees are not expandable. We want working environments where we can focus on providing a cup of coffee to a customer.”

The two trucks drove past various locations in Seoul, including the country’s first Starbucks store near Ewha Womans University and its 1,000th branch in southern Seoul.

Employees of Starbucks Korea recommended the event last week after the company’s recent marketing campaigns of offering coffee in reusable cups attracted so many visitors.

Customers stood in a long queue in many Starbucks stores across the country. Baristas and other workers struggled to serve the incoming visitors.

Instant apology did not work

Starbucks Korea CEO Song Ho-seop instantly made an apology through an email, but the action failed to calm down angry employees.

“Starbucks Korea could expect that its marketing events would increase the workload of employees. I don’t know why the firm did not prepare for that,” Inha University Prof. Lee Eun-hee told Korea News Plus.

“So many corporations talk about customer satisfaction. To satisfy customers, companies are required to satisfy their employees first. Starbucks Korea appears not to understand this.”

A Starbucks Korea representative said in a telephone interview that the company will come up with various measures for its employees after listening to their voices.

Shinsegae Group set up a joint venture with Starbucks to set up stores of the coffee chain in Korea in 1999. The group’s Vice Chairman Chung Yong-jin spearheaded its debut.

Thereafter, Starbucks became the country’s dominant coffee chain. Earlier this year, Starbucks sold all of its stake in Starbucks Korea to Shinsegae.

For Starbucks, South Korea is one of its biggest markets as the number of stores reaches roughly 1,500, according to New York-based data platform Knoema.

The publisher studied Korean history in Seoul and management of business administration in the United Kingdom. He has 20-year experiences in the media business. Kim can be reached at or 82-2-6956-6698.