Much less ‘Dinner on me!’ after antigraft law

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Much less ‘Dinner on me!’ after antigraft law

After an antigraft law went into effect on Sept. 28, fewer people are paying with corporate credit cards at high-end restaurants and bars.

According to BC Card Monday, the amount charged on its corporate cards at restaurants dropped 8.9 percent from Sept. 28 to 29 this year compared to Aug. 31 to Sept. 1 last year. The card company compared those days because they fell on same days of the week, or Wednesday and Thursday. The amount charged at bars fell 9.2 percent.

When compared to four weeks before the law went into effect, data showed that corporate card transactions fell the most at traditional Korean restaurants, 17.9 percent, followed by Chinese restaurants with 15.6 percent.

The Improper Solicitation and Graft Act, often referred to as the Kim Young-ran law, after the former head of the anticorruption commission who authored the initial draft, limits gifts and entertainment given to public officials. They cannot accept meals costing more than 30,000 won ($27.33), a gift worth more than 50,000 won or more than 100,000 won between cash and gifts for a wedding or funeral.

Traditional Korean restaurants and Chinese restaurants offer multi-course meals that normally cost over 30,000 won.

Business-related dinners in Korea always include drinks, so it’s hard to entertain under the law’s limits.

Transaction at sushi restaurants fell 6 percent compared to the previous week.

“It appears that corporate card use has dropped at relatively high-end restaurants and we believe fewer people are treating others for business reasons,” said Ahn Sooh-hak, a manager at BC Card.

The average amount charged on a corporate card in restaurants fell 7.3 percent to 51,891 won compared to the previous year. The figure for bars dropped 3.3 percent to 150,923 won during the same period.

“The Kim Young-ran law regulates how much people can spend to treat someone related to business, and it is forcing Koreans to spend less for meals and drinks,” said Ahn.

The number of transactions at restaurants fell 1.7 percent and the figure for bars dropped 6.1 percent compared to the previous month.

“More people are using personal credit cards after the law went into effect, and it appears the law is forcing Koreans to use personal cards for their lunches and dinners,” said Ahn.

The number of personal credit card transactions rose 0.3 percent at restaurants and 2.1 percent at bars compared to the previous week.

BY KIM YOUNG-NAM [kim.youngnam@joongang.co.kr]

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