The Korea Herald


[PyeongChang 2018] PyeongChang volunteers struggle with crude working conditions

Some volunteers quit or launched a boycott, citing lack of support and basic necessities

By Catherine Chung

Published : Feb. 5, 2018 - 14:11

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With PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics kicking off Friday, many volunteer workers have voiced their frustration over crude working conditions, igniting a controversy in the online community.

Around 15,000 volunteers have signed up to help out with the Winter Games and an additional 6,600 workers will assist at the Paralympics. But even before the Olympics starts, the Korean organizers have come under fire for its treatment of staff, with some of its volunteers suddenly quitting.

While some volunteers have already dropped out, those remaining volunteers have requested the country’s Olympic organizing committee to provide better working conditions with regards to “basic necessities,” such as food and transportation.

The rehearsal for the opening ceremony of the Olympics was held at PyeongChang Olympic Stadium last Saturday. Shortly after the event, around 60 volunteers launched a boycott, refusing to partake in any PyeongChang-related activities. 

(Yonhap) (Yonhap)

The organizing committee squashed the boycott, promising on Monday to “fix the problem and make an official apology to its volunteers.”

Despite the organizing committee’s efforts to alleviate the situation, many volunteers are posting their dissatisfaction and concerns via social media.

One volunteer demanded the organizing committee come up with a solution to its transportation service and apologize: “I had to shiver out in the freezing cold for nearly an hour before the bus came.”

The most critical problem for volunteers appeared to be transportation and food. Another volunteer wrote, “To get to the work site on time, we have to take the bus at 6 a.m., but they hand us food at 8 a.m. That leaves us basically no time to have a meal.”

Paired with long hours on the road and lack of sufficient meals, the volunteers are pushing the organizers to address the volunteers’ health and overall well-being.

Aside from problems with transportation and food, a small group of volunteers have also mentioned problems with their living quarters: “With no hot water running and a lack of sufficient laundry services, we are struggling to get by every day.”

“There appears to be rumors going around saying 2,000 volunteers are dropping out, but those who dropped out did it for ‘employeement, academic studies and health’ reasons,” said an official from the Korean organizing committee.

Last Friday, the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions called on the Olympic organizing committee to revamp its current system. It also held a seminar geared towards “good working conditions.”

The organizing committee acknowledged the mounting complaints and promised to to address the problems, such as accommodation, and work toward a “successful opening of the Olympics.”

By Catherine Chung (