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.

Did Public Toilet Fear Cause President Park to Miss Summit Photo?

I wonder if President Park had her special toilet installed in her hotel room during this summit?:

President Park Geun-hye, center, takes a photo with U.S. President Barack Obama and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte after the afternoon session of the the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington on April 2. / Korea Times file

Why was President Park Geun-hye so sensitive about a toilet’s cleanness? With the impeached leader the only person to know the answer, there are allegations her “exorbitant” attachment to a bacteria-free toilet led to a diplomat blunder early this year.

Park missed a ceremonial group photo of state leaders at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington in April. Back then, the government said Park was in the toilet during the photo shoot, not knowing the event was rescheduled for the summit’s smooth progress.

But the explanation was missing details, according to Rep. Kim Kyung-jin of the minor opposition People’s Party. The lawmaker said Park “deliberately” missed the photo event to use the toilet at her hotel room, instead of the public restroom next to the meeting venue.

“Park walked away from the meeting room all of a sudden when the meeting was under way,” the lawmaker said, based on information he secured from unidentified sources. “Later, it turned out that she left the venue to travel to her hotel to use the toilet at her room. She didn’t want to use the public one.”

Park returned to the venue and had her photo taken with U.S. President Barack Obama and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte when the afternoon session ended. [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link.

President Park Had Toilet Replaced In Incheon Before Using It

Not to pile on President Park’s already bad week, but this is a pretty strange story:

Rep. Song Young-gil (far left) talks about the President’s toilet episode at a YouTube live talk show organized by main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea at the National Assembly. / Screen capture from YouTube

And on Dec. 8, a lawmaker revealed for the first time the President’s other “more private” attachment: a bacteria-free clean toilet.

“The President visited Incheon City Office when I was city mayor (2010-14),” said Rep. Song Young-gil, of the Minjoo Party of Korea.

He made the comment on Dec. 8, as a guest on a YouTube live talk show organized by the main opposition party at the National Assembly.

According to the informant, the office had reported to the President during the morning about the city’s current situations and the mayor’s performance.

After a luncheon at the office, they went outside for local canvassing with her.

“At one time, officials from the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae had asked me if the President could use my room for a brief rest,” Rep. Song said on the show, at which four other lawmakers were guests.

“I gladly agreed to the request. But then, the presidential secretaries again came to me and said the President wanted to replace a toilet in a restroom inside the room.

“I was totally dumbfounded.”

The story was surprising enough to turn heads toward him, with the show’s host, former party member Choi Min-hee, being particularly loud about the President’s newly found “surreal” penchant for hygiene.

“I guess the President simply did not want to share my toilet,” Rep. Song said, laughing. [Korea Times]

You can read the rest at the link, but I have to wonder if President Park travels around with extra toilets and a plumber to install them as part of her entourage?

Tweet of the Day: Visiting Suwon’s Mr. Toilet Museum

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” lang=”en”><p>Video: Visiting the Mr.Toilet Museum in Suwon Korea <a href=””></a></p>&mdash; Christine Kaaloa (@grrrltraveler) <a href=”″>February 2, 2015</a></blockquote>
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