Female firefighter quits after boss gets too cozy

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Female firefighter quits after boss gets too cozy

A young female firefighter in South Jeolla quit her job after suffering sexual harassment from her boss at drinking outings that she was forced to attend over the course of a year.

According to the Jeonnam Fire Department in Muan County, the headquarters of fire offices in South Jeolla, the 30-year-old, surnamed Lee, left the workplace in late 2011.

In November 2010, she started her job on the rescue squad of Hongnong 119 Safety Center at the headquarters. According to the department, she used to be a nurse but became a female firefighter because she loved the work of saving lives at the scenes of accidents.

However, only two months after she started work, the young firefighter’s dreams were shattered.

In January 2011, she attended a hoe sik, or company dinner, with the chief of the headquarters and the center’s manager. The chief tried forcing her to drink poktanju, a Korean-style soju bomb, but she refused it.

Upset by her refusal, the chief started verbally harassing her by saying: “Do you think you’re pretty? You don’t even have big boobs.” He also threatened her saying “How dare you don’t drink? If you don’t do what I say, I will exile you [to the countryside].”

After that, the chief called her again and again, but she refused to attend any more outings. The chief then condemned her “unforgivable disobedience,” and ordered her to tender her resignation. The center’s manager also advised her to do what the chief asked, saying “You should receive our calls and come as a subordinate.”

The chief, angered by her refusal, demoted her to a local bureau in August for two months.

However, her new coworkers spread rumors about her relationship with the chief, ultimately ostracizing her completely.

Agonized by alienation and rumors in the workplace, she finally quit her job in December 2011.

Lee was engaged to her fiance in July 2011, but she was so stressed by the harassment that she found herself unable marry him.

“She has been receiving therapy since the incidents, and her therapist advised her to quit her job,” her fiance told the JoongAng Ilbo.

The chief was fired in November 2011 after the firefighter filed official charges of sexual harassment in August. The center’s manager was also punished.


By Lee Hae-suck, Kim Hee-jin [heejin@joongang.co.kr]

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