The Chairman of Star Alliance airline Asiana’s parent Kumho Asiana Group is being accused of sexual harassment as the ‘#metoo movement’ spreads to South Korea.
Park Sam-koo reportedly goes to the airline’s Seoul headquarters “on the first Thursday of every month to cheer on flight attendants.” He says he ‘receives energy’ by doing this. Some find “lining up pretty flight attendants” to be offensive.
Standing in a circle in the lobby, Asiana flight attendants clap their hands with Park as part of the monthly corporate ritual, during which Park exchanges greetings with his workers, offers advice, and encourages female workers back on the job after maternity leave.
Some flight attendants feel “pressured to shake hands with him.” One reports feeling forced to hug him.
Management of Asiana has faced criticism for work retreats where female employees “dance in racy outfits.” So the Chairman “began receiving bows from male workers” as well.
It’s the cultural context here that’s perhaps the most interesting — the changing way that Korean society sees top management of their conglomerates, the way those men have historically seen female employees, and the kinds of behaviors that are seen as inappropriate — and those women in South Korea are comfortable voicing (and not voicing). I take ‘forced hand shakes’ to mean something different in this context than they would here in the States.