It’s easy to criticize an industry that – in Korea at least – so needlessly stresses age and appearance, and to consider the young women that aspire to it as hopelessly vain and naive. However, despite these stereotypes, not only do the limited options available to Korean women arguably make stewardessing a rational, adventurous, and even quite rebellious career choice, but Korean airlines even require university degrees from applicants too (and some cabin crew actually have Ph.Ds!).
See the Korea Herald here for more information. Guaranteed, you’ll be much more sympathetic to Korean stewardesses (and hopefuls) after reading it!
Written by me last October, a couple of years after a Qatar Airways-bound student of mine forced me to rethink some of my own assumptions about stewardesses. One of the most intelligent and ambitious 23 year-olds I’ve ever met, I was reminded of her resolution and determination yesterday when I read that Asiana Airlines stewardesses had protested the company’s “sexist guidelines regarding female flight attendants’ appearance”, their union head arguing that:
Flight attendants are not Barbie dolls. We are professionals with diverse characteristics who strive to become successful. We should not be judged by how we appear outside. We cannot be subject to any discrimination at work just because we are women.
If anything, this stress on appearance is confirmed by the following advertisement for a Korea stewardess school, which begins by mentioning the benefits of becoming a stewardess, but then has a promotion about a competition to find the “uniform queen” on the back.
On the other hand, it is just the one ad, so we should be wary of drawing too many conclusions from it. I’m just presenting it here mostly for the sake of readers outside of Korea, who may never have seen a Korean one.
Also, from Korea-based readers, I’d be interested in hearing if any other universities likewise got inundated with other schools’ ads at the end of last semester, how they compare, and how effective you’d think they’d be with students (don’t dismiss the cartoon format though — recall that everything is cute in Korea!):
– If you’re a woman, who doesn’t want to become a stewardess? But there’s probably many women who don’t know what you have to do to prepare to be one (nod nod).
– I thought like that too when I began. I was short, my appearance was just average, my English wasn’t good…could I really do it? I worried a lot about it.
– But now you’re the perfect crew member, despite all that. Unbeliv[able]~!! (I don’t believe you!)
– [Older Sister]!! If you become a crew member, what are the benefits?
– The days off are great
– You get discounts on air travel
– You get global opportunities
– You make lots of money
– You even get support for your children’s tuition
– And lots more…
– So, older sister, how did you prepare? I too absolutely want that challenge!
– I’ll tell you how I did it.
– Okay then! Seonyeong’s stewardess success story, here we go~!!!
Keen eyes will have noticed that that was just Part 1; alas, I don’t have any more in the series, and can’t seem to find them on the school’s website sorry. But here is the back:
The title and first paragraph say:
– Find the Cosea Uniform Queen!!
– Cosea has a school vacation event for students with the dream of becoming crew members!
Next, there’s the details of that event:
– After having a free consultation and an image test, have your picture taken with an instant camera. The best student will win a free course at the school!!
– 1st prize: a free course
– 2nd prize: a set of interview clothes
– 3rd prize: a voucher for a free interview make-up and hair-styling session
– *Everybody that participates will get a personal color image check [James – ???]
Finally, it tells you how to enter the competition. But if you’re interested, then I’m afraid you’re on your own with that!^^