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South Korean Airline Boss Fined for Refusing Menstrual Leave for Flight Attendants

South Korean Airline Boss Fined for Refusing Menstrual Leave for Flight Attendants

The former president and chief executive of South Korean airline Asiana has been fined by the country’s top court for refusing menstrual leave for 15 flight attendants during a one year period from May 2014 to June 2015.

Under South Korean law, women are allowed to take between one and two days off per month during their periods. The law has been around since the 1950s although take-up is low and any time off often goes unpaid. Similar provisions are available to women in other Asian countries including Japan, Indonesia and Taiwan.

Kim Soo-cheon, who remains on the board at the Seoul-based airline, was originally indicted in 2017 for personally turning down 138 separate menstrual leave requests from 15 flights attendants the Yonhap news agency reported.

A lower court found Soo-cheon guilty and had fined him a nominal sum of 2 million won (USD $1,790). The Asiana chief, however, appealed the verdict arguing there had been “many suspicious cases” and that some of the flight attendants had requested menstrual leave around public holidays or close to their scheduled days off.

Soo-cheon also claimed the women had failed to prove they were on their period when they requested the time off.

The court found that asking women to prove they were on their period could “infringe upon privacy and human rights” and create a culture that put employees off requesting menstrual leave.

On Sunday, South Korea’s highest court upheld the initial ruling, rejecting Soo-cheon’s lengthy appeal.

Korean Air intends to acquire Asiana in a deal that would make the carrier the world’s seventh-largest airline. Since being announced in November 2020, the acquisition has been delayed until next year and the full merger won’t now take place until 2024.

Photo Credit: Sorbis /

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