Are Men’s Human Rights Being Violated in Korea By Female Restroom Cleaners?

This is something that can take people new to South Korea by surprise.  Personally I have spent so much time in South Korea that I hardly even notice the female restroom cleaners when they walk in, much less feel my human rights are being violated:

A scene from the political romance TV drama “Big Thing” (2010) on SBS, in which Go Hyun-jung (left) portrays a male toilet cleaner who accidentally meets Kwon Sang-woo and hides behind a corner enclo

Men’s toilets in Korea have been places of embarrassment and the subject of debate for years, especially among non-Koreans, because of women cleaners there.

Whenever females enter, wearing rubber gloves and holding brushes to scrub urinals and toilet seats, male patrons cannot help feeling embarrassed.

The cleaners, mostly ajumma ― Korean jargon for tough middle-aged women ― apparently cause serious mental discomfort to men who cannot handle the awkward situation.

Some patrons are philosophical with the attitude that the women are simply doing their jobs. But other patrons claim the presence of the women is violating the men’s human rights.

“I haven’t seen this trend in other countries, but the fact that women clean men’s toilets, while men are busy urinating, is a violation of basic human rights,” said South African Francois Pieters, who has lived in Korea for almost four years and was shocked to experience such an encounter on Sep. 7.

“Most of the foreign men in Korea, if not all of them, are shocked by this and yes, we do feel violated.”

Pieters claimed he went to a toilet in Seolleung Station in Gangnam-gu, Seoul, to change clothes for a wedding, but could not do so because two cleaning women were there.

“If they can put up a sign, like almost all of the other countries I’ve been to, then that would not violate anybody’s human rights,” Pieters said.  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link.



I am a US military veteran that has served all over the world to include in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Korea. I have been blogging about Korea, Northeast Asia, and the US military for over 10 years.


  1. During my time there I don’t think I saw a single female restroom cleaner that wasn’t over 75 and the only time they were actively cleaning en masse were those big restrooms at the rest stops on the highway. It was such a conveyor/stadium experience I barely noticed them.

  2. This is not limited to South Korea. I have run into putzfrau in the Frankfurt Airport Men’s Restrooms.

  3. He is a sensitive fellow from South Africa. Not sure what human right that is to pee with nobody watching, if it is then the US Army viloated my human rights for 24 years….Anyway, I always figured if the clearner don’t care I shouldn’t either.

  4. “I haven’t seen this trend in other countries, but the fact that women clean men’s toilets, while men are busy urinating, is a violation of basic human rights”…

    …said South African Francois Pieters, who was seemingly ashamed an old woman with 40 years of marriage and 3 kids might see his micropėnis.

    The real human rights violation is the drunk ajoshi leaning forward and gwaking at my cawk to see if it is true that foreigners are bigger.

    This hasn’t happened for some years… but it used to be a thing in Korea… and I want to know which UN agency to go to to get my reparations.

    As for the cleaning women, I just grab a handfull at the base and swing the other half around.

    “Attack helicopter’s cumin’ for ya, ajuma!”

  5. ’bout a year ago at 숙대입구역 ajuma (70-something) on her hands and knees begins wiping the floor right under the urinal I was using and actually bumping her little hand towel between my shoes. I thought this must be candid camera or something — no, just Korea.

  6. Unless you have something to be embarrassed about like an inchworm, I don’t see what the problem is. Everybody has to cry about something these days.

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