Until 4 years ago, all civilian aircraft captains in Korea were men. It seemed that it was impossible for women captains. However, Shin Soojin (SHIN) became the captain of a civilian aircraft for the first time after 60 years of establishing the commercial airline. She achieved her dream and opened the door for other women who dream of being captains.
SMT You majored in the Department of Political Science & International Relations. When did you
decide to become an airplane pilot?
SHIN When I was university student, I was an ordinarystudent. I did not know the way to become a pilot. At that time, there was no way that a woman could become a pilot. After graduation, I went to America and I had the opportunity to ride a light aircraft. I found that I could learn how to fly on airplane. At first, I started learning it with a light heart, rather than being a pilot. However, this start made me be a pilot.
SMT Many people think that your job is a male-centered job. Do you have any disadvantage or advantage as a woman captain? Also, when you hear title “the first woman captain of a civilian aircraft,” how do you feel about it?
SHIN When I entered Korean Air, I did not have time to feel this title. I usually cannot be aware that I am the first and did special work because the control of airplane is a duty that I have to do every day. Sometimes I try to intentionally feel this title, when I take everything for granted. I look back over the time when I hoped to become a pilot, and then I can feel the earnestness of that time. I also realize that I do what I had dreamed. When I work, there is no difference between man and woman. Women do not suffer from disadvantages just because they
are women. So, I want to encourage people who want to try to become a pilot.
SMT I heard that pilots have to undergo many difficult processes to become a captain. Could you explain about
becoming the captain of an airplane?
SHIN I had worked as the first officer (the second pilot of a civil aircraft) for 13 years before I became the captain. Simply put, other general jobs have diverse promotions, but my job has only one promotion from the first officer to captain. The way to become the captain is a never-ending process. The Captain is responsible for safe flights because hundreds of lives depend on one flight. So, I always prepare constantly for every flight. I care not only for physical health but also mental health. All captains get a check in every six months and have physical examinations once a year. There are also many tests in between. Although it is not easy to overcome every test, it is an interesting challenge.
SMT What is the most difficult thing as the captain?
SHIN I feel a stronger sense of responsibility after becoming a captain. Metaphorically speaking, if I climb a 50-meter mountain, I can see small scenery, but if I climb a 100-meter mountain, I can see wider scenery than from atop a 50-meter mountain. I could see a big picture like climbing the 100-meter mountain after I became the captain. Overall, I have to cooperate with the first officer and coordinate with all the other people who are working for a safe flight. Although the captain is given the authority to command, the captain who has the final decision has all the responsibilities.
SMT Many students worry about their uncertain future. Please give advice to students.
SHIN I want to say ‘live passionately.’ Students have to think about what to do and how to do it, and then do everything. Whatever you do, do it with passion. For example, you try to study enthusiastically or if you are not
interested in your major, you study actively other fields. When you take on a new challenge, it sometimes looks a
little bit reckless. Also, you may make a mistake. But it is okay. You can be forgiven for your mistake because you are young. Therefore, university days are a time to face every challenge. Four years of university make your future when you are in your thirties. If you live passionately, and you find what you want to do, you will achieve half of success in your life. Also, I want to say to fourth year students that they should never think it is too late to do something. Many seniors think that everything ends up and there is nothing that they can do before graduating.
However, you are not late. I also found my way after graduating. Whatever you do, do not think you are late.
Thinking that you are late is to give up and betray your life. This moment is the earliest. Live passionately, and you will meet happiness more quickly in your life. The result of your effort is clear to see in your life. Now start and believe in yourself, and you can make your life.
Shin Soojin (SHIN)
• Korean Air captain
• Graduated from the Department of Political Science & International Relations