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A toxic work culture can poison even the most talented employees and undermine the success of an organization.


A major South Korean Airlines was under a lot of criticism after it was found out that one of its major executives had ordered a flight back to the gate to deboard a flight attendant who had not served nuts properly.

The wife of a leading Presidential Candidate in South Korea was accused of treating government employees as their personal servants. Source: The New York Times

The above two instances are really shocking and are synonymous with bad work culture which is commonly known as GAPJIL in the context of South Korea.

Such instances of treating employees badly is a really serious issue.

This blog will discuss in depth the issue of GAPJIL in South Korea and suggest measures for organizations on how to tackle this problem.



A toxic work environment can impact your mental and physical health, and it's important to recognize the signs and take action to protect yourself.


The issue is the South Korean Culture where the social status of one person is dependent on a job or income level, people beneath in social status as per the perception are treated badly.

However, the problem is not restricted to South Korea, as after reading the examples below we might have experienced this at some point in our professional careers.

Some examples of GAPJIL which are generally experienced:

  • When a supervisor swore at an employee angrily, the employee felt threatened.

  • When Superiors insult you in front of peers.

  • For speaking up, your superiors ensure you are punished by a work transfer or removal from the project.

  • Not having the confidence to speak up as you are fearful that reporting on your manager could result in hurting future job prospects.

GAPJIL can further damage your mental health, it is not difficult to understand when treated badly. It can have a damaging impact on an employee’s personal well-being.

If such a thing is a culture in the organization, then, it will be very difficult for organizations to retain people over a significant period.

GAPJIL could also impact and violate information security requirements

For instance: Your manager requests you to provide your login ID and password to verify something. Initially, you are hesitant, but the manager pressurizes you and, in the end, you are not able to refuse as you fear your manager may impact your promotion and as a result you comply.

This is a major information security gap that can result in confidentiality clauses being impacted.

The impact of GAPJIL was intense in South Korea because it had one of the longest work weeks among wealthier nations.

Such long work weeks combined with GAPJIL have resulted in increased stress for employees.


It is important to learn to say no when not comfortable with anything even if it is work.


Let’s understand the possible reasoning as to why South Korea faces this problem.

  • Edward. T. Hall proposed two major aspects considering culture, one being high-context culture and the other being low-context culture. High context culture is more obvious in East Asian Countries like China, Japan, and South Korea.

  • One major characteristic of high context culture is that there is a tendency to avoid directly saying No. Low context culture is more obvious in Western Countries which encourages direct communication, and less emphasis is laid on interpersonal relationships.

  • High Context Culture lays a strong emphasis on avoiding saying no and places importance on seniority and position. However, such a situation could impact the employees negatively and situations like GAPJIL could develop.

The above theory shows why GAPJIL is more prevalent in Eastern Countries.

Source: Zhu & Ma, Culture’s Influence on Cockpit Communication


Organizations not proactive in addressing workplace abuse are at risk of huge reputational damage.


Firstly, it is important to understand the situation and organizations must take steps to promote a healthy workplace culture.


Establish Clear Policies: Organizations should develop and communicate clear policies against GAPJIL. These policies should define what constitutes abusive behavior, outline the consequences for engaging in such behavior, and provide channels for reporting incidents confidentially.

Training and Education: Conduct regular training sessions for employees and managers to raise awareness about GAPJIL, its impact, and how to prevent it. Training should focus on fostering a respectful and inclusive workplace culture, conflict resolution skills, and bystander intervention techniques.

Implement Reporting Mechanisms: Establish multiple channels for employees to report incidents of GAPJIL, such as anonymous hotlines, HR representatives, or trusted supervisors. Ensure that these reporting mechanisms are accessible, confidential, and free from retaliation.

Hold Leaders Accountable: Hold leaders and managers accountable for preventing and addressing GAPJIL within their teams. Evaluate their performance based on their ability to create a respectful and inclusive work culture and address any instances of abusive behavior promptly.

Promote a Respectful Workplace Culture: Organizations should foster a culture of respect, fairness, and openness where all employees feel valued and empowered to speak up against abusive behavior. Leaders should lead by example and demonstrate zero tolerance for any form of harassment or bullying.

Consequences for not addressing GAPJIL

When an aggrieved employee approaches the courts for relief, the organization will inadvertently face a crisis.

Such information that the organization is tolerating abuse or has no measures in place to prevent this will be detrimental to the organization’s credibility and create a crisis of confidence impacting business continuity overall.


Imagine you as the CEO of an organization are accused of failing your employees as they accuse you of turning a blind eye to a toxic workplace culture in the organization.

Can a recovery from such a serious charge be possible?

Gorisco has a wide range of experts who are experienced in defining and designing various solutions to help organizations mitigate their risks and resolve their problems. 

At Gorisco, our motto is 'Embedding Resilience,’ and we are committed to making the organizations and their workforce resilient. Reach out to us if you have any queries, clarifications, or need any support on your initiatives. 

To read our other blogs, click here. More importantly, let us know if you liked them or not through your comments.

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