Skip to main content



#trending: South Koreans boycott Paris Baguette over death of worker found crushed in mixing machine

GYEONGGI, SOUTH KOREA — South Korean consumers have called for a boycott of bakery chain Paris Baguette, after an alleged mishandling of the death of a 23-year-old employee who was crushed by a mixing machine at its factory. 

#trending: South Koreans boycott Paris Baguette over death of worker found crushed in mixing machine
  • South Korean consumers are boycotting bakery chain Paris Baguette after an alleged mishandling of the death of its employee
  • A 23-year-old female factory worker was crushed by a sauce mixing machine while working alone
  • Paris Baguette's parent company, SPC Group, was lambasted by online users for making their employees work near the accident site a day after the incident
  • The company was also criticised for its "insensitive" gesture of sending bread for guests at the victim's funeral
  • Calls of boycott have gone beyond South Korean shores, with many international consumers also pledging to stop patronising Paris Baguette stores

GYEONGGI, SOUTH KOREA — South Korean consumers have called for a boycott of bakery chain Paris Baguette, after an alleged mishandling of the death of a 23-year-old employee who was crushed by a mixing machine at its factory. 

South Korean media reported that on Oct 15, the unnamed female employee was working the graveyard shift and had been operating a sauce mixer alone at the company’s factory in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi province when her upper body was pulled into the machine.

Co-workers discovered her the next day and helped to pull her mangled body from the machine.

Instead of suspending operations, Paris Baguette resumed production the next day. Posts on social media alleged that the machine was merely covered with a white sheet and factory employees were instructed to get back to work next to the accident site.

Critics also said that the mixing machine should have been operated by at least two people.

The company’s response to the incident as well as the alleged safety lapses have sparked nationwide boycotts and protests in South Korea against Paris Baguette and its parent company SPC Group.

SPC Group is a food conglomerate that owns Paris Baguette and operates large global brands in the country, including Dunkin’ Donuts, Egg Slut, Shake Shack and Baskin Robbins.

Anger towards the company was incited even further after it was revealed that representatives tried to negotiate a settlement with the deceased employee’s family on the night of her funeral. 

The victim’s mother said that company representatives had offered a settlement in exchange for not pressing any charges, Asian-American website Next Shark reported.

The woman, however, refused and reportedly engaged a lawyer the next day.

The bakery was also slammed for sending bread for the funeral’s guests, which an SPC Group spokesperson later explained was part of a care package given when an employee or their family member dies.

The victim’s mother told South Korean broadcaster MBC: “How can they send bread from the place where she died? Does that make any sense?”

Online users in South Korea lambasted the company for the perceived insensitive gesture.

One wrote: “She was killed at a bread factory. Even the thought of bread would cause the family sadness. Why would they send the family bread? Are they psychopaths?”

Another person commented: “I’m at a loss for words. I can’t believe they disrespected the deceased as if it’s nothing. Did they not think they would hurt the family with this gesture?”

Just a week before the incident, an SPC employee’s hand was caught in a production line machine, the Korea Times reported. However, the company did not send the worker to the hospital for treatment because the person was a temporary employee on a three-month contract.


Following news of the incident, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol ordered an inquiry into the details of the employee’s death on Oct 16.

A day later, SPC Group’s chairman Huh Young In publicly apologised at a press conference, admitting that making employees work at the accident site was wrong and “inexcusable”.

The group also pledged to invest 100 billion won (S$99.1 million) to improve workplace safety over the next three years.

However, it was not enough to appease the people.

Despite the public apology, labour unionists and members of the public banded together on Oct 20 to stage a memorial ceremony in front of the company’s headquarters. One-person protests were also held in front of 1,000 Paris Baguette stores in the country.

People also took to social media to rally support for the boycott, with images of all the brands managed by SPC Group being widely shared across platforms.

The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions wrote on its official Twitter account: “Don’t ever buy or go to the murderous company SPC!” 

Hashtags such as “SPC boycott”, “SPC killer company” and “No-buy movement” were trending on South Korean Twitter, with some posts getting thousands of retweets, Vice News reported.

And the boycott has been yielding results.

The Korea Economic Daily reported on Oct 24 that sales at Paris Baguette franchises have plummeted by 30 per cent in the past week compared to the same period of the previous year. Franchisees are apparently being left with boxes upon boxes of unsold breads.


Calls to boycott the bakery chain have spread beyond South Korean shores, too.

On Oct 20, France's General Confederation of Labour paid tribute to the victim by holding a demonstration in front of a Paris Baguette outlet in Paris.

Twitter users have also been sharing images of maps detailing the locations of Paris Baguette stores in their countries and urging others to stop patronising them.

A number of people from areas in the United States such as New York City, Dallas, Los Angeles and Philadelphia have pledged to boycott their local stores.

Paris Baguette has more than 4,000 outlets globally with 14 of them located in Singapore.

Related topics

trending South Korea boycott Paris Baguette death

Read more of the latest in




Stay in the know. Anytime. Anywhere.

Subscribe to get daily news updates, insights and must reads delivered straight to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, I agree for my personal data to be used to send me TODAY newsletters, promotional offers and for research and analysis.