Go to contents

Stingy Year-end Parties

Posted December. 17, 2004 23:00,   


“College alumni meeting on December 15—Spent 65,000 won”

“Departmental year-end party on December 20—Will leave early”

“‘People working in the same industry’ club meeting—Will not go”

Company employee Gwak Dong-won (age 31, Gwangjin-gu, Seoul) is planning to keep a “year-end party account book” from now on. Last year, he was invited to over 10 year-end parties, after which he realized most of his savings were gone, and he was suffering from fatigue. This is why this year he set a goal—to halve the frequency of attendance and the amount of money spent at such parties, compared to the previous year. He takes down the details of his account book on memo papers and sticks them to the computer monitor at his office like New Year resolutions.

Company employee Seo (age 29, Seocho-gu, Seoul) arranged with her friends to watch a movie at a community center and have dinner with various coupons as an alternative to a year-end party this year.

Company employee Jeong (age 33, Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province) said, “My high school friends and I agreed to hold a year-end party during lunchtime. The biggest reason is to save money.”

The prolonged economic depression is changing even the atmosphere of year-end parties. A prominent new trend in year-end parties is “to attend as few parties as possible and spend as less as possible.”

Some efforts to reduce year-end spending include, “Hold similar meetings together,” “Hold a party in one place,” “Do not bring credit cards,” “Use the lunch break,” and so on.

Expensive year-end parties have become taboo even in companies because employees are voluntarily decreasing the frequency of year-end meetings due to the psychological effects of the economic depression in each company.

Unique parties, such as going hiking at night or using the party money for donation, are becoming popular in certain companies.

Bank clerk Lee (age 28, Mapo-gu, Seoul) said, “We recently held a party at our cafeteria, also holding a flea market and announcing our New Year resolutions. I had a very memorable time.”

With such trends in year-end parties, entertainment places that usually enjoy a year-end bonus are suffering from low sales. Luxurious restaurants and event companies that arrange year-end parties are in a relatively deeper slump.

Reservation rates at a famous hotel restaurant in downtown Seoul decreased to 60 to 70 percent of the previous year’s figure.

A reservation clerk in H Korean restaurant located in Gangnam-gu, Seoul, said, “Reservations are usually full at this time of year, but this year it is only half of that number,” and added, “Even when there is a reservation for a meeting, the actual number of customers is usually less than expected.”

An official in the Korean Alcohol Industry Association predicted, “Due to the decrease in year-end parties, whiskey sales at the end of the year will fall to around 15 to 20 percent compared to last year’s sales.”

Jae-Dong Yu jarrett@donga.com