Summer Bitch Festival

September 1st, 2008 · Humor, Photos · 18 comments

A branch of the Lotte Department Stores got itself into hot water recently with the photo seen below. Hat tip to Brian in Jeollanam-do.

Recently an advertisement put up at a Lotte Department Store in Jeonju has gotten attention on the internet. A portal site placed this photo online and the department store’s simple mistake has led to numerous humorous replies beating back the dog days of summer.

The story begins when the department store created an ad saying “Summer Bitch Festival” and it wound up being a hot topic on internet message boards.

“Bitch” is the most insulting word in English for a woman as well as a popular piece of profanity.

The store intended to write not “Bitch” but “Beach”, and a representative of the company which produced the banner said, “actually the banner in question wasn’t used at the festival and it just happened to be exposed during the set-up process and that’s how it got on the internet and made this awkward situation.”

But the many who were able to see it have said things like, “for Lotte to use the worst kind of language in the artistic city of Jeonju makes me distrustful of them”, “when foreigners see that banner they will get a bad image of Korea and make it a topic overseas,” and “I can’t this kind of thing happened at a big company like Lotte.”

A representative from Lotte Department Stores said, “we are already in communication with the company that produced the banner as well as the local store in Jeonju, and ask that everyone understand this is just a simple happening.”

But many people feel that considering that such degrading language was used in a Lotte Department Store, which is a public space for consumers and especially is visited by large numbers of women, it becomes difficult to see it as just a simple happening.

Well hey, it could happen to anyone.


  • There’s no excuse for that. It’s baffling why Korean companies consistently use English words and phrases yet never bother to check if their are correct. If you’re going to spend thousands of dollars on advertisement, packaging, signs, etc. For god sake’s consult someone who speaks English first. Don’t just use Naver’s dictionary and assume it’s right.

    Bill · September 1st, 2008 at 8:06 AM

  • Haha! Oh.. that made my morning :D

    ““Bitch” is the most insulting word in English for a woman…”

    I don’t know about that… I can think of a few others that women would find much more offensive. (‘C’ word comes to mind)

    Ian · September 1st, 2008 at 9:50 AM

  • Bill, I’ve said the same thing a million times. It’s unbelievable. Even more troubling when it happens in the field of English education, as it always seems to.

    Of course in the article somebody refers to the “bad image of Korea” line. How about, um, not using ridiculous English and not offending a few hundred million speakers with not only foul language but with idiocy, an idiocy which reveals a complete lack of interest in getting it right.

    Brian · September 1st, 2008 at 1:49 PM

  • Yeah, it’s offensive, but it seems like it was an honest (and let’s face it, hilaaaaaarious!) mistake. It’s also very common and understandable, considering Korean pronunciation – try saying either word like a Korean and they’ll sound exactly the same. (As a pacific northwesterner with the inherent inability to distinguish the words “cot” and “caught” I’m sympathetic – alas, the sounds we lack!)
    And most Korean companies aren’t using English for foreign audiences anyway. They use them because they have particular meanings and resonances with local audiences, for whom random drops of English are exotic, cool, trendy, or sort of sophisticated – even when they’re completely divorced from the original meaning.

    Jennifer · September 1st, 2008 at 2:12 PM

  • And why did no one assume that it was a dog show featuring only female dogs ? :D

    It is unfortunate that these mistakes are not noticed by someone along the line, especially when money is being spent, but really, is it that offensive ?

    Context and intent determine offensiveness.

    I personally find these mistakes for the most part much more amusing than offensive.

    hitest · September 1st, 2008 at 4:17 PM

  • No point in making a big deal of this, or you have to open up a very big can of worms. I saw a guy a couple of weeks ago wearing a colorful t-shirt sporting this sage message, in very large letters:

    BINGO! Handjob.

    No joke. Has anyone seen that t-shirt? I’ve been keeping an eye out for it in stores since then. Would be a nice addition to any collection.

    Pohang · September 1st, 2008 at 4:52 PM

  • […] Hat tip: Korea Beat […]

    So it’s a typo? — · September 1st, 2008 at 10:21 PM

  • I agree with HITEST. My first thought was that they were having a dog show and used a Korean-English dictionary that gave the word in its “proper” usage only.

    I’m more shocked that such a thing could cause such outrage. That’s just a plain weird thing to get all upset about.

    Michael Westbay · September 1st, 2008 at 11:57 PM

  • 1) Koreans make that mistake in pronunciation all the time. Who cares?

    2) I wish Koreans would get off the “foreigners will see it and make a big deal of it overseas and make a bad image of Korea!” train. No one really cares. It was a mistake.

    3) “Bitch” is not the worst word for women in the English language, at least in American English. I’d say “cunt” or “slut” or “whore” or “ho” would give “bitch” a run for its money. Especially when it was just a simple mistake.

    I’ll end my post with Kartman’s words from South Park: The Movie: “What’s the big fucking deal, bitch?”

    If people are worried about the Vaunted Honor of the Korean People in relation to the treatment/representation of women, then perhaps they might worry more about the open prostitution in the “안마” and “Sauna” and “룸” that basically treat Korean women like, umm, “bitches.”

    I mean, if you’re going to wring one’s hands over a dumb fucking sign, that is.

    The Metropolitician · September 2nd, 2008 at 12:00 AM

  • Hey, the wonderful world of spell checkers may be at fault!

    Give this a try. Type in “biich” – which seems like a logical way to spell beach for a non-native English speaker. Now what does your spell checker suggest? Mac’s text editor suggests {birch, bitch}. FireFox suggests {birch, bitch, Birch, biotic, biopic}. Assuming you don’t know what any of those words mean, which word would you chose?

    Michael Westbay · September 2nd, 2008 at 12:21 AM

  • Offensive? Not really. Hilarious? Yes. Sad and pathetic that even company like Lotte gets caught in “spend millions on English study but still can’t get basics correct”? Most definitely!

    Anonymous · September 2nd, 2008 at 6:05 AM

  • LMFAO!!!!!!!!!!!

    JM · September 2nd, 2008 at 9:24 AM

  • hey metro,

    are you saying the women who work in those establishments you referred to are nothing but “bitches”?

    Them “bitches” are trying to earn a living by plying their trade.

    Maybe you need to be serviced by one of them “bitches.”

    Give it a break with your mistreatment of women dribble. Western society mistreats women by forcing women to act like men. lol.

    eastmeetswest · September 2nd, 2008 at 6:46 PM

  • Come to the Saturday Night FLICK.

    Brendon Carr · September 3rd, 2008 at 4:42 PM

  • […] Summer Bitch Festival […]

    SeoulPodcast » Blog Archive » SeoulPodcast #19: Top Ten Things to See and Do in Korea · September 6th, 2008 at 11:37 AM

  • uhm, Bill?

    “…yet never bother to check if their are correct”

    Did you consult with someone who speaks English first?

    Anonymous · September 16th, 2008 at 12:35 PM

  • A friend that comes from there said
    “that store is well known for young girls getting a bargain” due to a large Uni(college) close
    So perhaps it is just truth in advertising

    a .d .i · March 24th, 2009 at 11:57 AM

  • […] good translations go bad. It’s not a summer festival for female dogs.   ♦ Korea Beat […]

    The doggonest things! « Hemmingford Dog Blog · August 24th, 2009 at 7:42 AM

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