Did Starbucks Really Label Drinks For Two Korean Customers With “Chink Eyes”?

Reports have being flying around the web about an incident in Alpharetta, Georgia regarding two Starbucks customers of Korean descent who claim that they were identified as the owners of their frosty drinks by an employee who drew “chink eyes” on their cups.

If it wasn’t bad enough that a Papa John’s customer found the words “lady chinky eyes” written on her receipt, or that two customers at a Chick-Fil-A were given their receipts with the names “Ching” and “Chong” printed on them, it now comes down to employees at Starbucks trying to be sneaky about their racism by adding “chink eyes” to cups, like this:

According to the Angry Asian Man blog, who was tipped off by the Asian American Legal Advocacy Center of Georgia, the story goes a little something like this:

Last month at a Starbucks Coffee location in Alpharetta, Georgia, two Korean customers — who are not native English speakers — discovered that their barista had identified them by drawing “chinky eyes” on their drinks. You know, where they usually write your name? OH NO THEY DIDN’T. Yes, they did.

You cannot tell me those are both just two random squiggles on those cups. I’m told that the customers immediately complained to the store manager, who did not defend the drawings or offer some kind of bullshit explanation, but simply apologized. And that’s it. Oh, sorry for the racist way we run our coffee joint.

But my favorite part of the story: in addition to the manager’s apology, the customers were offered a gift card. Well, thanks a bunch for caring.

This happened in a suburb of Atlanta with a significant Asian American population. I guess it’s too much to hope that the Starbucks employees in question would give a damn about the people in their neighborhood. Instead, two Asian customers were simply reduced to a wordless, racist caricature with the stroke of a pen. How many times do you think this was done to Asian customers before someone actually noticed and said something?

The only thing missing from this story is the obvious throw back to the 2011 sensation – Asians In The Library – that basically put “ching chong” firmly on the map.


12 thoughts on “Did Starbucks Really Label Drinks For Two Korean Customers With “Chink Eyes”?

  1. I am beginning to study Korean language, so I can spend a few months there. I expect strange looks and even stranger “acts.” I have done my homework so I’ll be prepared. Americans are sometimes exposed to “sensitivity training.” I do not expect this to be the case in other places. Even with the “loud” pc propoganda, many Amer. simply refuse to be courteous and open minded. As an Af. Am., how could I possibly not be prepared when travelling to mostly homogeneous countries? I am going to have a ball answering questions (innocent and belligerent) and being the center of attn. and try to represent my nation and ethnicity with dignity and graciousness. Then Ill blog about it.


  2. I’m an American living in Seoul, South Korea and Koreans do things like this to foreigners all the time. Dish it out but can’t take it. How is drawing “chinky eyes” racist? Its a fact, their eyes look like that. I wouldn’t get offended if I had two “round eyes” drawn on my coffee, its a fact, I have round eyes. Now if they wrote “F$%$G Chinks” on the cup, yeah rightfully so call the racist card.


    • African-Americans have dark skin, that doesn’t mean we can distinguish their drinks from European-American’s drinks by putting black circles on their cups. You obviously lack the education (both in school and family settings) to understand how this is a blatant display of racism.

      I respectfully ask you to send explanations and examples of hardship you have felt being an American living in South Korea. I’m a Korean living in Seoul right now but lived in province of Quebec, Canada for 5 years (one of the most racist city in Canada, if not in all North America). I’d like to see what “white” people regard as racism against their own race.


  3. “…but simply apologized. And that’s it.”
    “…the customers were offered a gift card. Well, thanks a bunch for caring.”

    The management apologized to the customers and were offered gift cards. They management tried to make right a wrong. What more could they have done? Sounds like whoever wrote that piece at Angry Asian Man Blog is butthurt and an oversensitive little flower.


    • I have been in the same situation, a little different transaction, but never the less, treated like less than a paying client. I live in the southern US, but am from the northwest US. They spot me because of my “tree hugger” accent (as they call it) a mile away, and I see a difference in the attitude as soon as they detect my accent. I’ve been here for twelve years, and it is still the same.

      Once I was at a check-out counter paying for gas. I handed the clerk my plastic. She said “Credit or debit?” I had no idea what she meant. I said “It’s a debit card.” She said “No kidding, Einstein.” I said, “Give me my card and I’d like to talk to your manager.” The manager came out, asked me what the problem was. I explained, word per word, what had happened just minutes ago. She walked over to the clerk, told her to apologize to me or go home. She apologized, I purchased my gas and thanked her for the apology. I then asked her what she meant by “Debit or credit.” She explained that I could use the card either way. Just a bit of personal responsibility from the manager and clerk alleviated the problem immediately.

      Had the manager not told her to apologize (accept personal responsibility for her rudeness) I would have gone to the top.

      Mark, if you are satisfied with being treated like shit by someone whose wages you supply, good for you. I don’t treat my clients that way, and I do not expect to be treated that way.

      The obvious point was that the employees were not in any way aware of how ignorant they were behaving and that their behavior, however miniscule, still represents their immediate supervisor. They wouldn’t work for me if they had no sense of responsibility. It could have been a better transaction with just a little bit of mature behavior added. But then, slinging lattes doesn’t require any personal responsibility at all.


  4. I am sick to death with people who are unwilling and/or unable to live with those of other cultures without either making fun of them or treating them like dirt. Alexandra needs to understand that it is not JUST Asians who do this sort of thing. I live in the DC/Baltimore area, and let me clue you in on a couple of things. People of all races and cultures act exactly like what she accuses these people of. I work in a grocery. It is not uncommon to see (and definitely hear) people of all stripes, yelling, arguing, and even fighting while in public. It is also not uncommon for them to either come through the checkout lines ALREADY carrying on a phone conversation, OR, worst yet, coming into the line and then actually making a call while they are supposed to be doing a business transaction.

    I’ve witnessed people who were suppose to be at a charity function, or a nice night on the town, or even at a symphony or theater, and answer their phones (which shouldn’t even be turned on) and carry on a conversation while others are trying to hear what is going on at that particular event.

    Alexandra should look around her with more open eyes. She will find that Asians are not the ONLY people to do such things. Whites, Hispanic, Arabic, African-American … and the list goes on … are just as guilty at one point or another. Race has absolutely nothing to do with it. It only proves that Ms. Alexandra is racially biased and doesn’t even realize it.

    Oh, and for those of you who are curious (down-right nosy), I am Caucasian!!!


  5. Alexandra needs a strict, life changing crash course in ethnic acceptability. Alex, as I am sure you prefer to be called because it’s ‘trendy,’ do you think you have helped to enforce the concept of “blonde bimbo?” Check one: (O) Yes, (O) Yes.


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