Jun Kyoung-ok became Korea’s first female captain of the country’s only flag-carrying shipping line, Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM), the shipper said.
HMM said it appointed Jun, 38, as captain of the Hyundai Courage, an 8,600 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) container ship currently sailing HMM’s Korea Middle-East Express line.
This is the first time for a woman to hold the command of a Korean flag-carrying merchant vessel. HMM became the only Korean flag-carrying shipper after Hanjin Shipping was declared bankrupt in 2017.
“Just 10 years ago, it was unimaginable for a vessel to have a female captain, and I am very grateful to be the first female captain and HMM is the company that appointed her,” Jun said.
“Still, it is regrettable that it took nearly 30 years for me to become captain after entering the National Maritime & Ocean University, which is oftentimes regarded as off-limits to women. The ocean is still narrow for women, and I hope my appointment could break the practice of depriving opportunity or discriminating based on gender.”
Jun graduated from university in 2005 and joined HMM as a third mate. She was promoted to second mate in 2006 and become first mate two years later. She spent most of her career on container vessels.
“After 10 years, I hope for society to become more equal to different genders, so more female mariners can maintain their jobs while raising children, and the appointment of a female captain does not make the news,” she said.
On Dec. 12, HMM appointed the first female chief engineer of a Korean flag-carrying merchant vessel, the Hyundai Colombo container ship sailing a line linking China and India. HMM currently has eight female officers.
The shipping industry largely has a male-dominated workforce, especially among ship officers. According to the International Maritime Organization, women represent only 2 percent of the world’s 1.2 million seafarers, and 94 percent of female seafarers are working in the cruise industry.