Korean Billionaire Cleans School Bathrooms

Chung Mong-joon, current member of the National Assembly and owner of a $1.9 billion stake in Hyundai, tweeted photos of himself cleaning bathrooms on March 3rd. Chung is currently campaigning to become mayor of Seoul, one of the most important political offices in the country, and has been engaging in the time-honored tradition of ‘man of the people’ photo ops. Thousands of netizens commented on the pictures, most of them assuming it was the first time the billionaire had ever washed a bathroom and criticizing it as a publicity stunt.

It wasn’t the first time Korean politicians on the campaign trail have gotten criticism for trying to get photos of themselves looking good. During the 2011 campaign for Seoul mayor, press photographed candidate Na Kyung-won at an event in a home for disabled children where she washed a naked 12-year-old child.

Article from Newsis:

Candidate Chung Mong-joon Cleans the Bathrooms

Candidate for mayor of Seoul, Chung Mong-joon, cleans student bathrooms in Yeondeungpo’s Yangpyeong-dong Seon-yoo Middle School on April 3rd.


Comments from Daum:


Don’t clean a spotless one. Why are you scrubbing a bathroom that is already ten times cleaner than what cleaning ladies have to deal with normally?


hahaha. That’s probably the first and last time he does that. Very nice… What does it mean to have power…


So they’re putting on a show, eh… Tomorrow they are going to upload a picture of him walking around some outdoor market


With the time you spent putting on that cleaning show try buying a meal for the old woman who is getting exploited doing that work for minimum wage every other day of the year.

In another official campaign photo, Chung volunteers in the school cafeteria of the Namseong Elementary School

In another official campaign photo, Chung volunteers in the school cafeteria of the Namseong Elementary School


Does anyone really feel like this was genuine?


This isn’t how he has been living his life, this is just something he does once for publicity.


rewrite that headline: For the First Time in His Life Candidate Chung Mong-joon Cleans the Bathrooms


Will this performance be effective? Tut tut This looks like the kind of picture that only comes out during campaign season


Ah yes, the ‘common citizen cosplay‘ we see every election season… ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke


What bs, these bastards… Some asshole who has never worked hard in his life puts on a show when elections come around..what a real miserable bastard


I knew what all of the comments would be as soon as I saw this photo


I’m speechless


ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke


Scrub my shit and I’ll give you 70 won for bus fare…[this comment references a famous incident in June of 2008 when Chung claimed the bus fare in Seoul was 70 won (approx. $0.07, vs. the real fare: 1000 won, approx $1) Commentary at the time said it showed how out of touch Chung was with the common person]


Must be the first time he’s ever done this,,,,,


this is the worst


Doesn’t this bring to mind a certain woman who put on a show for the reporters by washing a handicapped child??

During the 2011 mayoral election in Seoul, candidate Na Kyung-won caused an incident when she held a photo event at a home for disabled children where she publicly washed a naked 12-year-old.

During the 2011 mayoral election in Seoul, candidate Na Kyung-won caused an incident when she held a photo event at a home for disabled children where she publicly washed a naked 12-year-old.


Let’s postpone the election for three years!!! So they can clean every school bathroom in Seoul, ke.

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  • Brett

    Reminds me of doing the limbo as a kid.

    How low, how low, how low can you go?

  • Anonymous_Joe

    Tin ears. What is it with Korean politicians, Korean chaebols, and Korean companies? Doesn’t anyone have the common sense to focus group any of these stunts before they try them?

    Doesn’t anyone on their staffs have the common sense to say, “when I think of how this makes me feel, what first comes to mind is ewww?

    • Regular Bob

      Remove Korean in your first sentence and you just described the state of the world

      • Anonymous_Joe

        I disagree. Korean companies particularly have tin ears in staging these publicity stunts that leave people thinking ewwww.

        My point was that Korean politicians, Korean chaebols, and Korean companies don’t focus group these things before they do them. If they had, they would have gotten the feedback translated above from Daum posters.

        How often do you see Korean companies, particularly in international markets, in these gaffes?

  • mei mei

    this is so fake and useless, didnt solve anything

  • lonetrey / Dan

    So robotic… Did they read about this in a book and then tried to emulatr it or something?

    • chucky3176

      They only volunteer during election times. lol..

      Korea’s run by old farts who grew up in the 1950’s and 1960’s with old thinking. It’s standard routine for them to put on a show whenever there’s an election going on, or whenever they’re getting questioned for corruption. That’s when they start grabbing back of their necks and heads and undergo a self induced stroke, in where they are rushed to the hospital. That happens in Korean dramas a lot, but it really does happen in real life laughably. Then they show up in newspapers in hospital pyjamas with a “look at me I am so sick why are you media treating me this way?” look.

  • Doge Wallace

    Campaign fail. C’mon – you don’t toot your own horn over something normal people do all the time. He cleans a school bathroom, but I doubt he cleans his own.

  • Mighty曹

    Nothing irritates me more than politicians doing this kind of photo-ops. Doing this for an hour or a day or spending a night at homeless shelter is meaningless. They still have the jobs, cars, and beautiful homes. I will be impressed if any of them can do it for a full month earning that actual pay then donating it toward a public service charity.

  • Yaminah Jamison

    Um is someone stealing his wallet?

    • David

      THAT was the first thing I saw, I can’t believe nobody else commented on that. I assume it is actually a reported either holding up a tape recorder from the 80’s or offering to give him a handy.

  • commander

    What many politicians misunderstand is that the public do not want affluent politicians to pander to them by staging an one-time event aimed at polishing their images.

    All they want is fair and reasonable formulation and implementation of policy, regardless of how rich they are if their wealth are accumulated via legitimate means.

    What is conspicuously absent in political circles is rationality and reasoning based on compassion toward the socially vulnerable.

    I think it would be better to try to figure out problems plaguing the Seoul city and how to fix them once and for all while leaving the job of cleaning bathrooms to others.

    What is really amazing is that few aids around him appear to advise him not to perform what many citizens call a publicity stunt.

    • Boris_Da_Bengal_Tiger

      My guess is that some may have done so but were ignored. IF not then they were basically yes-men/women

    • Anonymous_Joe

      commander: “What is really amazing is that few aides around him appear to advise him not to perform what many citizens call a publicity stunt.”

      My point, which see elsewhere in this thread, exactly.

      I have a question: how much of this is attributable to Korean culture? (By which I mean no one on his staff saying, “boss, this doesn’t feel right to me?”)

      • commander

        No one know for sure what his aides make recommendations to Mr. Chung.

        But my guess is that his image as billionaire keeps ordinary people from relating to him, a widely shared perception, presumably prompting his aides to come up with a plan to project the image of ordinary Joe for him to the public, using the vital promotion tool of SNS services.

        Although it is understandable that the upcoming election requires image-polishing campaigns, he should have started such an effort much earlier, giving the public the time to adapt to the new approachable image.

        As for Korean political culture, I want to put it this way.

        The democracy in South Korea only thrives when local election is held as candidates end up paying little attention to their constituencies after victory in election.

        Voters are sick and tired of empty lip services from candidates, and they revile elected officials when they fail to make good on their election pledges. But the electorate easily forget the fact that the incumbent backtracked on his campaign promises when the next election season comes–a recurrence that hold back democracy in the nation from progressing.

        We have to endure publicity stunts in the run up to election for Seoul Mayorship.

        I think no candidates have prepared themselves to take the helm for the Seoul city as they all appear to have decided to declare their candidacy after making political calculations taking precedence over any aspiration to serve for the Seoulites.

  • YourSupremeCommander

    He did it only when there’s a camera around.

  • ytuque

    Worthless photos of a rich politician cleaning a public bathroom that was already clean and posing with some cafeteria workers. Notice there’s not a single stain on his apron, so either he is very careful, or he didn’t do anything.

  • Glass Heart

    i like how he wears a reflective jacket in the bathroom like a stray car will randomly not see him.

  • Whatnow

    Nothing grates me more than when politicians do this, however at least it makes someones else’s day a bit easier for once.

  • Anonymous_Joe

    Well, he’s got my support. A mayor who is willing to clean school commodes and work in the school’s cafetaria AND he’s got the pictures to prove it, who wouldn’t support such a candidate?

  • Whirly Pop

    You don’t need to campaign for anything. Just give out that 1.9 billion to everybody. Now that’s actually making a difference.

  • All Koreans should suffer and be punished….for allowing GANGNAM STYLE to be exported across its border

  • Fake and gay because he didn’t do it while they were still being used kekeke

  • min

    See how clean is that washroom. Clearly others spend hours to make that place looks shining for the “Royal” candidate. That’s low

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