African Journal of Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure (Jan 2019)

The Ethicality of the Severe Wage Gap in Cleaners Salaries in South Korea.

  • Dr. Jeongsun Kimmm

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 8, no. 1


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This paper is a first attempt to examine international visitors’ perception on South Korean cleaners’ work and wages. Focus group discussions and a questionnaire survey were conducted. The focus group results present that one’s perception can be influenced and changed by others’ views. In the hospitality industry for example, one of the vital components is the housekeeping department. The role of cleaners in the housekeeping department, is to fulfil basic functions, meet health standards and satisfy guest expectations. Cleaners are thus the employees that are in charge of the cleaning of g uestrooms, public restrooms, and other public areas. Their salaries are however considered low. For example, in this study only one focus group discussion participant thought that cleaners’ payment of about one million won is not enough. However, after viewing the presentation and discussion, 13 participants changed their opinions. The questionnaire survey results suggest that survey participants think that a CEOs’ work is more stressful than cleaners’ (57% vs. 45%), CEOs’ work requires more responsibility than cleaners (61% vs. 34%). Regarding salary, more participants believed that 1) A cleaners’ salary of about one million won is too low (39% agreed vs. 15% disagreed), 2) A CEOs’ salary about hundred million won is too high (37% vs. 20%), 3) A CEOs’ salary about ten million won is not too high (41% agreed vs. 17% disagreed). This is important for the hospitality industry as it employs many cleaners in South Korea and millions of cleaners globally since the gap between national minimum wages and the cost of living is constantly increasing.