The Granite Tower
McDonald’s Secret about Society
Kim Na Young  |
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승인 2014.05.01  15:49:49
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▲ A McDonald's Logo in the Sky. Provided by


Being a franchise with more than 35 thousand restaurants worldwide in more than 100 countries, McDonald’s has developed into an international foodservice retail. As it continuously grows without much hesitation, it is often considered as one of the most powerful brands that exist today. Although the retail is usually viewed with an economic or international stance, it is also amazing how much it tells about the society in which we live in.

Since McDonald’s has about 1.8 million employees and serve over 70 million people per day, it is not surprising that many incidents and even accidents occur there. It, therefore, can be considered as a small miniature replication of the world that reflects the current society, as it involves various people with various thoughts.

The Aged under Attack

On January 2 of this year, six Korean elderly people had gone through a disgraceful experience while drinking coffee. They had been kicked out of a McDonald’s branch in New York after quarrels with the employees and three policemen. The reason was because employees at that McDonald’s had notified the police that their business was being obstructed due to the Koreans staying for too long.

However, McDonald’s started to be targeted with critical complaints by the Korean society when the news that the elderly people only stayed for just over 20 minutes was spread. In addition, the fact that the same branch had reported the same issue to the police four times in only three months angered the Koreans living in America and abroad. Thus, this soon became a controversial issue.

Regarding this issue, many Koreans emotionally argued that such an action by the restaurant was purely based on discrimination and prejudice. They claimed that, although there were many other customers within the store, the employees and the store owner only reported the Korean elderly and they had done so several times. Thus, they argued that McDonald’s branch had a stereotype that Koreans tend to be stingy and stay at one place for a long time.

Indeed, such people have good reasoning behind their arguments. Nonetheless, there is a more important and rather newer problem that lies behind the case, one that deals with how the conception of old people are taking shape in society. Although the current population of not only America but the whole world is aging at a rapid pace, they do not seem dealt with very well.

One of the things that can be seen through this is that many in the aging population are now using fast-food restaurants, including McDonald’s. In the past, such restaurants were considered as places in which only the younger generations would use and visit. Nonetheless, many older people visit it nowadays, as it is developing into a broader scale where they sell various foods, such as ice cream, coffee, and even items from the breakfast menu.

The problem, however, is that some people, including the store owner and the employees of McDonald’s, may lack a sense of respect towards the senior citizens due to strong individualism. Although they could have requested politely and formally for them to leave they rather decided to call the police and kick them out using violence.

Such an issue can also be implied through the more recent case of an elderly white couple forced out from McDonald’s in Virginia for staying more than 30 minutes on February 21 of this year. Since the aging population continues to grow rapidly each year, such incidents do not seem to indicate a hopeful future.

▲ A Branch of McDonald’s. Provided by

Money over Morality

McDonald’s has also been involved with another controversial lawsuit of 150 million dollars since March 2, for only giving one napkin to a customer. According to Webster Lucas, an African American, he sat in a McDonald’s located in Southern California and ordered a Big Mac. When he found out he needed more of them, he returned to the counter and asked for more, but was refused.

The decisive factor that led to the filing of the lawsuit was not only the napkins; Lucas claimed that the reason he was not able to receive extra napkins from McDonald’s was discrimination. He claims that after refusing to give napkins to Lucas, the store manager had murmured some discriminative phrased including, “you people….”

The most apparent problem of the society that could be inferred from the case is the discrimination that still exists against the black people. However, it also tells some negative aspects about current major businesses and companies such as McDonald’s. As can be inferred through the lawsuit, many companies today seem so hard-hearted and focus too much on making profits that they hesitate even about small things such as giving extra napkins.

This can be further related with how most of the fast-food restaurants even here in Korea do not allow refills of sodas and limit the amount of ketchup that each customer can have. This undoubtedly contradicts with the recently emphasized Corporate Social Responsibility which highlight the importance of companies complying with ethics and morality.

Unfortunately, even though McDonald’s is an international corporation, the brand has recently been mentioned very often in the news with scandalous issues all around the world. These include not only the problem of the company itself, but also happenings that occur with the people who were inside the individual restaurants. As similar conflicts continuously happen within McDonald’s, each of the cases should not be ignored and should definitely be reconsidered with deeper insights.


▲ A pile of various food sold in McDonald’s . Provided by
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