Last week there was much media coverage of the announcement of TaeYang, a member of the famous K-pop group, Bing Bang as Honorary Ambassador for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics. However, what was amiss in the media coverage was the fact that hundreds of construction workers have yet to be paid for their work.  Please sign our ACT NOW hereunder!

According to the KFCITU, there is a total of KRW906,500,000 (~USD$807,091) in delayed or unpaid wages relating directly to Olympic venues, and a total of KRW 6,852,628,210 (~USD$6,100,591) relating to Olympic-related infrastructure projects in the region.

The BWI has submitted the report along with a letter to Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee calling for immediate intervention by the IOC to facilitate the resolution of the current situation in PyeongChang.

Although the IOC may believe that they have no direct responsibility many workers believe that the IOC should do something. One worker stated, “The IOC can make sure people get paid on time and don’t get hurt on the job. If they want construction work done well, they should make sure that the people who do the work are treated well. The quality of construction depends on the quality of the work done by workers and the treatment they receive.”

The specifics of the back wages along with other findings of the report that detail workers’ rights violations linked to the 2018 Winter Olympics will be presented in Berlin, Germany at BWI’s Global Conference on Nexus of Sports and Migration. The two-day conference starting on June 27 will also address BWI’s work in ensuring decent work and safe and health working conditions for all workers including migrant workers in mega-sporting events such as the World Cup Tournament Projects in Russia and Qatar and the Olympic Games in PyeongChang and Tokyo.

The report  can be downloaded here:


Mr Thomas Bach IOC President

Lausanne, Switzerland


Dear Mr President Bach:

On behalf of the Building and Wood Workers’ International including our affiliate in South Korea, the Korean Federation of Construction Industry Trade Unions (KFCITU), I am writing to you once again to convey our ongoing concerns regarding workers’ issues in the construction of sporting venues and other infrastructure required for the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics. In particular, the issues of delayed or unpaid back wages continues to undermine the lives of many workers and their families and the ongoing occupational health and safety failures are leading to too many accidents, including four fatalities now.

Since 2015, the KFCITU has been actively resolving delayed or unpaid wage claims, however the current problem has grown faster than they are able to intervene. They calculate that there is a total of KRW906,500,000 (~USD$807,091) in delayed or unpaid wages relating directly to Olympic venues, and a total of KRW 6,852,628,210 (~USD$6,100,591) relating to Olympic-related infrastructure projects in the region.

As you know, on numerous occasions, the BWI has highlighted these issues to the IOC and we even submitted a report of our preliminary findings last year. However, it is clear that the current problem is far more extensive than anyone would have predicted and immediate intervention in necessary.

Noting this I believe it is imperative that we work together to resolve the situation as soon as possible to prevent more workers finding themselves financially impoverished. In this, I would like to request a meeting with you to address not only the issue of back wages but further findings of our most recent report. In addition, I hope to discuss with you the measures that the IOC can take to facilitate the immediate payment of these back wages.

I would like to once again propose that the IOC conduct a joint mission to South Korea with BWI to get a better understanding of the situation on-the-ground through dialogues with the KFCITU and the affected workers. With less than eight months to go before the Opening Ceremony, it is critical that we work together to address the on-going problem.

When it was announced that PyeongChang would host the 2018 Winter Olympics, there was great anticipation by construction workers in South Korea believing it would provide decent jobs, living wages, and safe working conditions. Unfortunately, their hopes have been dashed. Unless the IOC acts now, we fear that the long-lasting legacy of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics will be of workers’ violations, something I believe that the IOC would not want to continue to replicate.

For further details on our findings, attached is an updated report based on research conducted by the KFCITU and interviews with workers directly impacted by the back wages.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours Sincerely,


Act Now

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