Eager to Quash Breast Exam Reports, Garuda Tries PR Offensive in S. Korea

The Jakarta Globe

Keen to scotch reports it was conducting medical checks on the breasts of potential recruits, airline Garuda Indonesia this week invited South Korean journalists to talk directly to flight attendant candidates from the country about what had occurred in their interviews.

On Wednesday, Garuda held the final entry test for applicants and invited seven local media outlets to meet the candidates.

“We feel very embarrassed and uncomfortable with the report on the breast-check allegations and that we were asked to be naked during the medical examination,” one of the applicants was reported as saying by Chosun, a Korean news Web site.

She said that if a breast check had occurred, they would have spoken out.

“We would not have remained quiet and said nothing, because we are not stupid,” said the applicant, who was not identified.

She added that during the health examination, doctors only checked their chests and all the aspiring flight attendants were wearing a brassier and hospital gown.

Previously, news agency Agence France-Presse reported that an applicant for a Garuda cabin crew position in South Korea, who requested that her name not be published, said dozens of candidates were required to strip down to their panties so a doctor, who was male, could check for tattoos and breast implants.

A spokesman for Garuda’s Seoul office said the medical tests should have followed routine procedures, which did not include breast examinations.

Ikhsan Rosan, a spokesman for Garuda, denied reports of breast checks.

“It needs to be clearly noted that we have never asked applicants to get naked for the health examination or the interview because we do not have any procedure for such a breast examination,” he said.

“Even if we had, we must follow the procedure where there should be no cause for sexual harassment, by, for instance, doing it by X-ray.”

Ikhsan declined to give details on the applicants, citing clauses protecting their confidentiality.

Garuda, he said, has started hiring foreign flight attendants to improve the airline’s service on international routes by taking on staff members with language skills that would make communication with passengers easier.

Since the start of last year, the airline has hired foreign flight attendants to assist on routes from Indonesia to South Korea, China and Japan, Ikhsan said.

Garuda, and its low-cost carrier offshoot, Citilink, are in the process of expanding their networks to other destinations.

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