For many people, a pilot is one of typical future dreams when they are children. It is certain because of merits of pilot; that is the fact that pilot can fly the sky. A lot of people have the romance of flying sky, even they became an adult they also keep this romance. Shin Soo Jin (SHIN), who is the first Korean women captain, even did not dream a pilot from her childhood, but she found this romance during her university life, and realized not only many people’s childhood dream but also pilot’s ultimate dream. After her first flight with a captain, the Sookmyung Times (SMT) met her and heard her magical stories.
SMT: Your major is Political Science, but you chose a pilot as your job comparing your major. Could you tell me why did you choose this job with difference?
SHIN: When I was a university student, I was just ordinary student; I did not have great grade, I did not join any clubs. At first glance, I was a hopeless fellow. In that situation, I met the chance of changing my life in America. I got in a light plane for traveling the U.S. it was the first time to see small flight in my life. I met an American pilot instructor in the flight. He said, “You will be a pilot!” I was surprised at the fact that I would be a pilot. With that shock, I was led to the way of pilot by destiny. Like that, I happened upon my way, and I invested my passion all in all. Actually, there was also luck. After I finished study of pilot in America, that year Korea admitted women as a pilot. I went through a co-pilot, and reached a captain. I cannot believe that I am a captain in an aircraft of civil aviation. You know that Korean is the infertile area for women because of ‘ceiling glass.’ However in the case of Korean Air, my work place, gave me many chances. I think that Korean Air is opened to Korean women.
SMT: I heard that there are many hard steps to be a captain. What was the hardest step for you? And how did you overcome that step?
SHIN: Actually there was no ‘the hardest step.’ Just every step was the hardest one. So whenever I faced the hard step, I thought that if I finish that step, the bigger step waits me, thought only my present step, and this thinking trained me. Especially in training step to be a captain, we train in only irregularity situation. Through that step, I was in a sweet enough to fill a bathtub. Today when I did a shakedown flight, (a maiden flight) I realized that many steps are needed to make one captain. After I became a captain, diverse hard steps wait me. A captain is not just the boss of flight, it requires many works; before a flight, a captain has to prepare for the flight line, check the flight line, and confer with flight control about whether flight is possible or not. Also a captain has some skill to improve the co-pilot’s flight skill. However above all, if an irregular situation is happened, everyone who regards me as a friend became others, and they call me to account. Of course a captain has to solve this problem, in other words a captain must have ‘boss qualification.’ My co-worker, who also became the first women captain in Korea, said that the captain is the lonely job. I think it is totally true. It is certain because not only bosses in all area are originally lonely, but a captain has to solve some problems in ‘moving flight.’ It can’t make stop. So it is hard to solve the problem, and that is the reason why we think that it is a lonely job.
SMT: I heard that you were the typed-ordinary student during your university life. However, was there a special person to you?
SHIN: Of course I have a special person. That person is Kyungsook Lee, who was the previous president in Sookmyung Women’s University(SMU). I regard her as my mentor in my life, and she is great person among my relations. When I was junior during university life, she became a professor in SMU just when she was 38 years old. She taught me much knowledge and injunctions, and in the lesson she said, ‘Imagine your figure ten years later.’ This quote was so impressed, I have remembered and thought it over even now. Though her lesson, I could think my future way seriously, I wanted to be that person so I tried, and I can reach this position.
SMT: Many people have the illusion about fly the sky. To you, what is the merit of job?
SHIN: It makes sense among pilots, we called ourselves the ‘half year life.’ The reason is that we took a check of coping with an irregular situation, if we do not pass this check, we were dropped. Also there is the physical check-up once in year, it is the hardest step like check. Although this job has hard factors for many people, it also has fascinating points. Even I always said to other people that a pilot is very difficult job, but after I stay in home for just two days, I feel that my body wants to fly. Also this job already became my daily life. I think that the flight is my daily life. This special daily life is sometimes ordinary, sometimes gives me to be so much strong. Among these emotions, I felt the fact of life. Actually I am a Christian, during flying the sky I felt that I can meet God more closer than other Christians. Every moment I fly, and my feeling is the merit of pilot.
SMT: You are a captain, but you are also a mother of your child. I think that every Korean working-mom has a worry between the role of mother and the self-realization. Have you faced this worry? If you faced it, how did you solve it?
SHIN: I am also Korean working-mom, so I faced this situation. First I went to the Incheon airport, I always thought of my daughter’s face. As times goes by my daughter and I come natural to this situation. Of course I want to be a good mother to my daughter, but I can’t give up my job. Previously I told you that my job is my daily life. I have a passion for my job, and my daily life. Every person can’t give each of daily life. Someone asks me that the role of mother is also your daily life, but I think both are somewhat different. I give my whole love my daughter during my holidays rather than I give ordinary interest and love my daughter in every day. I regard it as my parenting style. Also as time goes by, I believe that my daughter will understand me someday and I will do my best in my job. It is the good way not only to me but also to her.
SMT: Finally, please tell me your ultimate future dream.
SHIN: For a pilot, a captain is the ultimate dream. So I think that I accomplish my dream with pilot. From now on, rather than pursuing my private desire, I want to fly safely every day. That is my present future dream and the duty.