In GS 25 Hours branches, one of the brands of retail stores in Korea, you can buy takeout foods and beverages that fill your stomach, even during a short break. In GS 25 Hours at Ewha you can do more than just buy food, you can enjoy conversations with the staff members of the store, which will set you laughing.
Since its establishment in 2008, GS 25 Hours has successfully maintained its popularity among students. Beyond the variety of merchandise in the store, one of the main attractions that helps to engage students is the bulletin board through which the staff members and students communicate.
A bulletin board at the back of the store is filled with scribbled, colorful ink messages that are the questions and comments from the students and answer from the staff members.
Starting from music requests like “I want to hear Low (music from the movie Step Up 2)” to somewhat personal questions like “What should I do if I want to make you as my man?” or “What are you going to do on White Day?,” the board has constructed a bridge between Ewha students and the anonymous respondent, simply by being posted in the right place.
Eventually, the hero of the bulletin board revealed himself; the sincere and hilarious answers were from Shin Dong-hwan, the current branch manager of GS 25 Hours at Ewha. But Shin was not the first person to give replies on the comments. The “bulletin board conversation” was started from the previous manager, Lee In-hwak.
“Although I enjoy writing replies in every comment, I still cannot find the reason why the board is so popular,” said Shin.
All branches of GS 25 Hours in Korea have the bulletin boards for complaints from customers, but none of them are favored as much as at Ewha. The main purpose of the board is to hear the complaints and demands from consumers. But when Lee started to give sincere and funny answers to every comment, soon the students filling in the bulletin board became curious about the identity of the generous comment-giver.
“At the beginning, I felt so thankful for the devoted commentators that I decided to give them replies to recompense for their interests. It was the very time that students turned their interest away from the products onto me,” said Lee.
Lee says he was embarrassed when students came near the board to see recent comments and worried if they would find as his name and phone number, which was written on the top of the board. The enthusiastic reaction from students made Lee give suggestions to the head office of GS 25 Hours to operate events for customers using photos of Lee. But it has been rejected by the head office that it might harm the overall image of the store as he wasn’t handsome enough to attract more students.
Hundreds of questions and comments have been read by Lee and Shin. However, while Lee and Shin were working together, one impressive question made a mark on their memory. “It was near the Christmas time when I saw one particular question. The student was asking about me, wondering what am I would be doing on Christmas Day, and asked me out. I answered that I am not a player,” said Lee.
A few days later, he found reply. “I wish you were a player, so I could flirt with you” was the last comment from her. Lee admits that now he somewhat regrets the decision he made at that time.
“I try to give funny answers because it may be really boring if I write formally on the paper,” said Lee.
Now, Lee has left the GS 25 Hours but he still works in another branch office. To him, Ewha remains as a unique memory as Ewha was the only place that his replies were welcomed.
Shin is busy managing the products and watching over the store every day. But he never forgets to save time to write the comments on the board. He never stops thinking of funny answers just to bring laughters to the faces for Ewha students.