Explainer: What is South Korea's 'gapjil' culture of workplace harassment?


South Korea has long had a problem with toxic workplace culture.

Bad behaviour from the rich and powerful towards their employees has become so commonplace in South Korea that society coined a new word for it – ‘gapjil’. The word is a portmanteau for when people in power (gap), abuse those they employ (eul).

Let’s take a closer look at what it means, the laws to protect employees and recent surveys:

As per BBC, the term was spawned by the phenomenon of authoritative bosses routinely harassing lower rank-and-file subordinates.

As per Jezebel, South Korea, an institutionally stratified nation, has one of the longest workweeks of nations in power and sorts its people into classes.

When one’s social status is entirely dependent on a job title or income level, those in power are enabled to treat the classes sometimes literally beneath them like servants rather than dignified employees.

A few examples cited by The New York Times: the  10-year-old granddaughter of a tycoon threatening to fire her chauffeur for being “spoiled”; a boss making a corporate employee pick up their dog’s poop; the daughter of a former Korean Air chairman forcing a passenger jet to return to its gate at JFK.

Former South Korean president Moon Jae-in, who left office in May, had repeatedly promised to do something about gapjil, which he called a "leading workplace evil."

File image of South Korea's president Moon Jae-in. Reuters

The issue was spotlighted in 2019 Lee Myung-hee, matriarch of the Korean Air dynasty, was accused of physically and verbally abusing her staff, including by throwing metal shears at her gardener and forcing another staff member to kneel after forgetting to buy ginger, as per CNN.

Lee was given a suspended sentence in 2020, allowing her to avoid jail time if she can avoid committing other crimes for three years. The sentence was seen as a blow to labour rights activists, as per the report.

Backlash for bad behaviour

Thankfully, there has been a backlash.

Government agencies, the police, civic groups and corporations are offering “gapjil hotlines” letting citizens blow the whistle on bad bosses, as per The New York Times.

And it’s working. From politicos to corporate bigwigs, gapjil scandals have dented many a reputation, as per the report.

Case in point the wife of Lee Jae-myung, who was forced to bend the knee after being accused of treating government officials like personal servants while her husband was a provincial governor.

Lee ultimately lost his election.

On college campuses, students are hanging placards accusing “gapjil professors” of sexual harassment, as per The New York Times.

“South Koreans live with an enormous tolerance for abuse, but when they can’t take it anymore and explode, they call it gapjil,” said Park Chang-jin, a former Korean Air flight attendant who campaigns against gapjil as a leader of the small Opposition Justice Party told the newspaper.

‘Faced workplace harassment’

As per CNN, Nearly 30 per cent of Korean office workers reported facing some form of workplace harassment over the past year in an online, nationwide survey of 1,000 respondents.

That figure was up from 23.5 per cent in March.

The survey conducted by research group Embrain Public and commissioned by Workplace Gapjil 119, an organisation that assists victims of office abuse, showed respondents faced sexual harassment from superiors as well as verbal and physical abuse.

Representational image

One employee said they felt threatened when their supervisor swore at them angrily, while another described receiving late night text messages from her boss containing abusive and sexual language after he had been out drinking. Others faced exclusion from office groups and been insulted by superiors in front of peers.

In May, Gapjil 119 announced that its analysis of 205 reports it received from abuse victims between January 2021 and March 2022 showed that more than eight out of 10 people who reported sexual harassment at the workplace said they suffered from some form of retaliation.

About 100 of the reports were from those who had filed complaints about sexual harassment to either their employer or other institutions.

About 90 per cent of them said they did not receive due protection after speaking out about sexual harassment, and 83 percent said they experienced retaliation, the group said.'

About 64 per cent of the victims identified their supervisors as harassers, while 30 percent of the cases involved their employers, according to the group's survey, which allowed multiple responses.

The study showed 79 per cent of sexual harassment victims were also bullied at the workplace.

Verbal sexual harassment was the most common type of offence, experienced by 76.1 per cent of the victims. It was followed by physical sexual harassment at 43.4 percent and visual sexual harassment at 6.3 per cent.

Gapjil 119 also pointed out still prevalent gender discrimination in hiring, wage and promotion.

A total of 542 complaints about gender discrimination in employment were filed with the labour ministry between January 2021 and March 2022, but there were no cases in which the ministry conducted labour supervision at the workplace, the group said, citing government data provided by an Opposition lawmaker.

Laws to tackle harassment

In May, a revised law took effect with enhanced measures against workplace gender discrimination and sexual misconduct.

Under the amendment, employees can report such incidents to the Regional Labour Relations Commission. The government agency can order corrective measures after deliberation, and employers who fail to comply without proper reasons can be fined up to 100 million won.

Korea in 2019 passed a law dictating that bosses who unfairly fire workers for complaining about bullying face up to three years in prison or a 30 million won ($25,464) fine, as per CNN.

With inputs from agencies


Also Read




'Badhaai Do' movie,1,'The Kerala Story',2,'Zeeshan Maggie Point',1,"kerala story",1,@preganest,1,100W SuperVOOC Charging,1,90s actress,1,Access to Diabetes Care,1,accident,2,Actor Salman Khan,1,Actress Priyanka Chopra,1,Air India,1,Air Quality,1,Alia Bhatt,1,All-Round Performance,1,Amazon,1,Anushka Sharma,1,App-Based Taxis,1,Arjun Tendulkar,1,Arshia Goswami,1,Article,4,Atlee Kumar,1,back pain,1,Bageshwar Dham,1,bank holiday schedule,1,bank offers,1,Barbed wire,1,BH registration,1,BH-Series,1,Bhopal,3,Bhupesh Baghel,1,Bike Rider Agastya Chauhan,1,birthday,2,BJP,2,Bobby Deol,1,bodyguard missbehave,1,BOE screen.,1,Bollywood,2,Bollywood Actor,1,Bollywood Couple,1,Bollywood Diwali,1,Bollywood Journey,1,Bollywood Stars,1,borrowing,1,Box Office Collection,1,Boxing Champion Mary Kom,1,bribery allegations,1,budget.,1,Bundelkhand,1,Business,24,camera setup,1,Career,1,Career Growth,1,Career Setbacks,1,Cash for Query Case,1,Celebrity Celebrations,1,Celebrity Diwali,1,Chhatarpur,1,Chhattisgarh Election,1,Chinese Stocks,1,CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan,6,codecanyon,3,Comedian,1,Congress,2,Congress MLA Omkar Singh Markam,1,Controversial Movie,1,converting to Islam,1,Counterclaims,1,couples goal,1,creativity,1,Cricket,1,Crime news,1,Deadlifts 60 kg,1,Deendayal Antyodaya Rasoi Kendras,1,Deepika Padukone,1,Defamatory Posters,1,defense personnel,1,Delhi airport,1,Delhi Fire Service,1,Delhi metro,1,Delhi Police,1,Delhi Pollution,2,Development Scheme,1,Devotees,1,Dhanteras,1,Dhanteras 2023,1,Dharmendra,1,Dhirendra Shastri,2,Diabetes Awareness,1,Diabetes Epidemic,1,Diabetes Prevention,1,Diamond jewelry,1,Diesel Vehicles,1,Disastrous Plastic Surgeries,1,discounts,1,District hospitals,1,Diwali 2023,4,Diwali a National Holiday,1,Diwali Announcement,1,Diwali bank holidays,1,Diwali Celebration,1,Diwali deal,1,Diwali Gift,1,Diwali Moments,1,Diwali offers,1,Donatella Versace,1,DPR,4,Dubai woman,1,early signs,1,Earnings Growth,1,Education / Employment,3,Eid Party,1,Eight-Year-Old,1,Election Commission,1,Election Promises,1,election year,1,Elections 2024,2,Enchanting Moments,1,Entertainment,21,Environment,1,Environmental Measures,1,Family Celebration,1,Fan Frenzy,1,Fan Reactions,1,Fan Reactions.,1,Fashion,1,Female Engineer Uber Driver,1,Festive deals,1,Film 'Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan',1,Filmfare Awards 2023,1,Filmy Proposal,1,Financial Benefits,1,financial transactions,1,Fire Incidents,1,Firecrackers,1,Fireworks,1,first water metro,1,fiscal deficit,1,Food,2,free earbuds,1,free food grain scheme,1,Gajakesari Rajyoga,1,Gemini,1,Global Health,1,Global Market Outlook.,1,Gold savings,1,Goldman Sachs,1,Government,1,government employees,1,Government spending,1,Govinda,1,Griha Lakshmi Yojana,1,Hakuto-R,1,health sector,1,Healthcare Awareness.,1,Hero,1,Hindu Heritage.,1,Historic Revival,1,Hong Kong,1,iconic career.,1,IIFA 2023,1,IIT Indore,1,Inauguration,1,India,4,India news,4879,Indian festivals,1,Indian Muslim,1,Indian news,8,Indian road tax,1,Indian Shares,1,Indore,3,Indore court,1,instragram,1,Insulin Discovery,1,Investment Opportunities,1,IPL,1,IPL 2023,2,IT,1,Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra,1,Jammu and Kashmir,1,Jewelry discounts,1,Jiah Khan,1,Job,1,Kamal Nath,1,Kanya Vivah-Nikah Yojana,1,Karan Kundra,1,Kareena Kapoor,1,Katrina Kaif,1,Kiara Advani,1,Kidney failure,1,kidney health,1,kidney issues,1,kidney symptoms,1,KL Rahul.,1,Kochi,1,Krishna Priya,1,Kupwara,1,Latest news,1,leaked design,1,legal inquiry,1,Life Changing tips,1,Lifestyle,12,Lifstyle,1,Lok Sabha Ethics Committee,1,loss of cat,1,Love Jihad,1,Love Story,1,Lucknow,1,Lucky Zodiac Signs,1,Maa Kali',1,Madhya Pradesh,23,Mahakal lok,1,Mahakaleshwar temple,1,Mahtari Vandan Yojana,1,Mahua Moitra,1,main,19,Make in India,1,Man naked and garlanded with shoes,1,Mantralya,1,Market Trends,1,Mata Sharda Temple,1,Material Happiness,1,medical attention.,1,Men wearing skirt,1,Menstrual Hygiene Day 2023,1,Mexican Giant Turtle,1,Mir,1,MIT,1,mobile phone,1,modular kitchens,1,Moon,1,Movie Premiere,1,MP Election 2023,1,MP Weather Update,2,multi-state travel,1,Mumbai,2,Munawwar Farooqui,1,National,162,National Paper Airplane Day 2023,1,national security,1,Navlakha,1,Neelam Kothari,1,Netherlands,1,News,1,Nick Jonas,1,Northeastern University,1,Nothing Phone (1),1,ODI Wicket,1,Ola,1,One Nation One Number Plate,1,OnePlus 11 5G,1,opposition members,1,Osho,1,Paramilitary Forces,1,Parenthood,1,Pennsylvania,1,Personal Life Controversies,1,pet parrots,1,plants mango saplings,1,PM Narendra Modi,3,politics,4,Pollution Crisis,1,Pradeep Mishra,1,pricing,1,private companies,1,Priyanka Chopra,1,Profession,1,Prosperity,1,PTI – The Siasat Daily,3,Rachit Agarwal,1,Ranbir Kapoor,1,Rashid rover,1,Realme GT 5 Pro,1,Realme Narzo N53,1,record-breaking century,1,regional variations,1,relationships,1,Religious Significance,1,renewable energy sector,1,Reserve Bank of India,1,Revival Efforts,1,rib pain,1,Romantic Photos,1,Royal deaths,1,Rs 70 lakh,1,Russia Ukraine ongoing conflict,1,Sadar Bazaar,1,Safety Measures.,1,Sagar,1,Sagittarius,1,salman khan,3,Sanatan Dharma,1,Sara Tendulkar,1,Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Park,1,Shah Rukh Khan,1,Shah Rukh Khan's Airport Video goes viral,1,Shalini's Unconventional Divorce Photoshoot,1,Shubam Gill,1,Shubham Gill,1,Sidharth Malhotra.,1,Sir Frederick Banting,1,Six-month-old Infant Dies,1,smartphone,2,Snapdragon processor,1,Snapdragon processor.,1,Social Dynamics,1,social media,2,Social Media Reactions,1,Sooraj Pancholi,1,South Actresses,1,South Africa,1,South Indian Cinema,1,South Indian Comedian,1,specifications,2,Spending husband's money,1,Sports,17,stomach pain,1,storage options,1,Structural Growth,1,subsidies,1,Summer Season,1,Supreme Court,1,Sushant Singh Rajput,1,T20 World Cup,1,Tarek Fatah,1,Taurus,1,tax collection,1,Tech,5,Tejasswi Prakash,1,Temples,1,Tensions,1,Theater Chaos,1,Tiger 3,1,Tilak Nagar,1,Top jewelers.,1,Transport Department,1,Trending,3,Trinamool Congress,1,tweet,1,Uber,1,Ujjain,1,Ukraine Defence Ministry,1,University of Glasgow,1,urban housing,1,US-Canada Border,1,US-India Visa,1,vehicle registration.,1,Vicky Kaushal,1,video viral,2,Viral news,1,Viral Sexy Video,1,viral video,4,Virat Kohli,1,Virat Kohli and Gautam Gambhir,2,Water crisis,1,Wedding Anniversary,1,WiFi,1,Wildlife,1,Wired Food Combinations,1,Women Empowerment,1,World Diabetes Day,1,World News,2194,youth,1,youtuber,1,
Explainer: What is South Korea's 'gapjil' culture of workplace harassment?
Explainer: What is South Korea's 'gapjil' culture of workplace harassment?
ASE News
Loaded All Posts Not found any posts VIEW ALL Readmore Reply Cancel reply Delete By Home PAGES POSTS View All RECOMMENDED FOR YOU LABEL ARCHIVE SEARCH ALL POSTS Not found any post match with your request Back Home Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat January February March April May June July August September October November December Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec just now 1 minute ago $$1$$ minutes ago 1 hour ago $$1$$ hours ago Yesterday $$1$$ days ago $$1$$ weeks ago more than 5 weeks ago Followers Follow THIS PREMIUM CONTENT IS LOCKED STEP 1: Share to a social network STEP 2: Click the link on your social network Copy All Code Select All Code All codes were copied to your clipboard Can not copy the codes / texts, please press [CTRL]+[C] (or CMD+C with Mac) to copy Table of Content