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Why South Korean Businesses Can Legally Refuse to Serve Foreigners

“Korean-only” businesses illustrate the country’s struggle with its increasingly multicultural population.
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Reactions were decidedly mixed when Megan Stuckey, a 24-year-old U.S. citizen living in South Korea, told a local newspaper that she was denied entry to a bar simply because she was a foreigner. Some shared her frustration while others sided with the establishment.

The Korea Herald reported in February that the bar Stuckey had tried to go into, Green Light, even has a sign at the door laying out its policy: “Only Koreans are allowed because our employees are not able to communicate in English,” it reads. “It’s not a [sic] racist. Sorry. Please be generous about it.” Yet Stuckey, who teaches English in Korea, said she still wasn’t allowed in after speaking Korean to the staff.