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Promoter Housewives

Posted June. 12, 2007 04:50,   


Ms. Kim told us when we were on a visit on June 10, “My husband is working here as an engineer. Since I’m promoting his company, naturally I feel proud.”

Stay-at-home wives are being recruited as “public spokespersons” for their husbands’ companies these days, including automobile, steel, and ship construction companies.

POSCO was the first conglomerate to recruit housewives as promoters. Starting from 1987 and 1988, Pohang Steel and Gwangyang Steel had 64 and 18 housewives, respectively, promoting the company.

Because the 6 to 1 competition for jobs there is fierce, POSCO decided to shorten its contract term from three years to two from 2006 so that more applicants could have a chance.

Renault Samsung Motors began to recruit in December of 2001 during the opening of their “Auto Gallery.” The promoters supervise tours of the 964-pyeong automobile museum and guide visitors through 1.9 kilometers of factory production lines.

Samsung Heavy Industry’s famous “free call taxis” are also driven by employees’ wives. They know every nook and cranny of the 1,000,000-pyeong shipyard, and visitors as well as employees find them indispensable.

Cho Soon-ja, who’s been driving for two years, said, “Since I see close up the work my husband is devoting himself to, I feel a special passion and responsibility for what I do.”

There are also a small number of housewives working away at airlines and construction companies.

The real estate business, especially, goes into battle mode when property is renovated. Sometimes they recruit housewives part-time to spread the word.

A construction company says that ordinary promoters or part-timers do not feel as much responsibility and it takes twice as long to train them because they are not familiar with the company. Housewives are faster at picking up the work, however, because they are interested in what their husbands do.

Asiana Airlines, following the dying wish of honorary president Park Sung-yong, employs 20 housewives to manage documents, take care of general management, drive cars, and clean airplanes.

Team manager of Renault Samsung Motors Seo Gyu-eok emphasized, “For company promotion, flowery prose isn’t worth a single word of sincerity and trust. The housewives are a great asset to the company because they share our company spirit.”

changkim@donga.com mobidic@donga.com