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South Korean Workers Turn the Tables on Their Bad Bosses

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SEOUL — A boss orders a worker to feed and clean up after his dog. An airline heiress makes a taxiing passenger plane return to the gate to remove a flight attendant who rubbed her the wrong way. The 10-year-old granddaughter of a newspaper tycoon hurls insults at her chauffeur, threatening to fire him for being spoiled.Such behavior has become so common in South Korea that the country now has a name for it: “gapjil.”The word is a portmanteau for when “gap,” people with power, abuse “eul,” those who work for them. And in South Korea’s deeply hierarchical society, where one’s social standing is determined by profession, job title and wealth, hardly anyone has escaped its claws.More recently, though, gapjil has triggered a backlash​. On websites, street banners and even stickers in public bathrooms, government agencies, the police, civic groups and corporations are offering “gapjil hotlines” encouraging citizens to blow the whistle on officials and bosses who abuse their authority.Using bullying language, offerin …

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