The stewardess was a vocation.

Lifting and carrying heavy luggage with slender arms, and sometimes dealing with demanding customers, was not all that difficult.

It was fun and proud for him to wear a neat uniform and travel around the world.

This is the story of Mr. A, who joined Korean Air as an international flight attendant in 2009.

In 2015, after six years of joining the company, an abnormality occurred in my body.

I was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia.

The sky seemed to be falling.

I wanted to continue working, but my health was getting worse.

The company did not wait.

In the end, he resigned in early 2017, his second year of fighting the disease.

In 2018, the following year, an industrial accident application was submitted to the Korea Workers' Compensation and Welfare Service.

It was only after hearing the news that the risk factors caused by crew life and exposure to cosmic radiation, especially from flights to the North Pole, were strongly associated with the development of leukemia.

The industrial accident examination has been delayed and extended one by one.

In the end, Mr. A could not hear the result.

Person A, who was dependent on a ventilator to continue breathing, died in May of last year.

On May 17, 2021, one more year after that, the Korea Workers' Compensation and Welfare Service gave an industrial accident judgment for Mr. A.

It was about three years from the first application, and one year after Mr. A's death.

Why did it take so long...

The key is 'cosmic radiation'

Titles like 'First, First' always force a certain amount of sacrifice and suffering regardless of the intention of the person concerned. This is not the case for the winners or the strong, but especially for the few and the weak. Person A was the first case in Korea to apply for an industrial accident by specifying exposure to cosmic (ionizing) radiation during flight as the main cause of the outbreak. Cosmic radiation was an issue that was not well known to Korean society. It was difficult and even unfamiliar. It really had to be a long process.

Literally, it is a scientifically proven fact that pilots or crew members are more exposed to cosmic radiation from space and are more vulnerable to disease caused by radiation. According to the results of the 2015 Korea Nuclear Safety Foundation, the average annual radiation dose of flight crews was about 2.2 mSv, which is much higher than that of medical workers who handle CT or X-ray equipment as well as nuclear power plant employees (0.6 mSv). In 2014, the Occupational Safety and Hygiene Research Institute under the Ministry of Labor in Taiwan (Taiwan) selected aviation flight attendants as the number one occupation with the highest cancer incidence rate through the 'Report on Occupations Exposed to Top 10 Cancer Diseases'.

▶ [Report File] ‘Rare disease’ stewardess, whether industrial accidents

will be

recognized In

Korea, a large-scale study was conducted for the first time in 2019. A research team from Yonsei University Medical School and Seoul St. Mary's Hospital conducted a related investigation for the first time in Korea. As a result of analyzing the cancer/leukemia incidence rate among 59,751 air transportation industry workers, the overall cancer incidence rate for women was 2.27 times higher than that of civil servants and 2.09 times higher than that of general workers. Although the incidence of cancer was low among male workers, the incidence of poisonous leukemia was 1.86 times higher than that of civil servants and 1.77 times higher than that of general workers. Leukemia is a disease that is particularly associated with cosmic radiation exposure.

▶ Aviation workers leukemia doubles ↑… Pay attention to the possibility of 'in-flight exposure'

However, if words like 'industrial accident' or 'compensation' are followed, the nature of the problem changes.

This is because scientifically proving that it is harmful is a different story from an individual directly proving a link with the disease.

A typical example is the case of a lung cancer patient's lawsuit against a tobacco company.

It is common knowledge that smoking causes lung cancer, but the Supreme Court ruled against the plaintiff in a lawsuit for damages filed by lung cancer patients (who smoked) against a tobacco company.

The causes of lung cancer are not only smoking, but also living environment, health condition, genetics, etc. It is a very difficult problem to prove that 'smoking' was the direct cause of lung cancer.

The same was true for cosmic radiation and leukemia.

It was very difficult to be recognized as an industrial accident due to invisible radiation.

Loose government regulations, companies behind the scenes

After the first news of Mr. A's story on June 11, 2018, the media reported (Hankyoreh 21), interest and efforts in various fields such as academia, labor, medical circles and the National Assembly continued, but the change was slow. The government (Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport) insists on very loose regulations compared to other countries such as Europe, the United States, and Canada, and the airline's response, which has been adhering to the position that "there is no problem because it is complying with regulations," has also slowed progress. was a stumbling block. In front of the government's convenience and corporate interests, the 'worker's right to health and right to know' was felt as a very weak existence.

Meanwhile, A died. It was only one year after the death that the industrial accident was approved. The Occupational Disease Judgment Committee, which reviewed Mr. A's industrial accident, said, "Considering that Mr. A's cumulative radiation dose cannot be considered low compared to radiation medical workers, and that leukemia developed at a relatively young age of 31, the disease and A significant causal relationship is recognized between the tasks.” He also pointed out that there are significant errors in the radiation exposure forecasting program used by airlines.

Coincidentally, on May 24, a week after the industrial accident determination, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport also significantly strengthened related standards. The radiation dose management standard for flight crew members was lowered from 50 mSv per year to 6 mSv per year, and the retention period for related records was also extended from 5 years to 30 years from the last flight date. Basically, it is in line with the standards of other countries, but it is also the direction that SBS pointed out in a report in November 2018.

▶ [Crew ③] The 'exposure controversy' continues... out of control' cosmic radiation'

A's family "It took too long"

The industrial accident was approved and the system changed, but Mr. A did not see it and passed away.

However, A's death was not in vain.

In addition to Mr. A right now, there are four more former and current pilots and crew members waiting for an industrial accident determination for the same reason.

The labor community expects similar applications for industrial accidents to continue.

Kim Seung-hyeon, a labor attorney representing the industrial accident application, said, "(Through the case of Mr. A), even low-dose cosmic radiation has been recognized as having a causal relationship with cancer (leukemia), so it is expected to have a significant impact on the currently applied cases and similar cases in the future." said

Mr. A's case is highly likely to be a historical precedent.

It took three years, but on the other hand, it is undeniable that it is very rare that the regulations have been drastically changed in three years.

Numerous fields such as nuclear power, space science, and medicine are intertwined, and there are many observations that change will take more time as the direct interests of major airlines depend on it.

The reporter also went to public hearings and debates three years ago to cover the matter and met various officials, but he never thought that such a change would happen.

It may be a cruel word to the bereaved family, but it is all balls shot by Mr.

The process involved the efforts of several people. After that, the role of the National Assembly as well as the scientific and medical circles continued to play a major role. There were people who, mainly the Democratic Party, raised issues every year since 2018 and held public hearings and debates every year to ‘refresh’ this issue so that it would not be buried, and to keep the government and companies from relaxing. As the reporter remembers, the Democratic Party's Jae-il Byun, Ung-rae Noh, Cheol-min Kim, and Sang-hyeok Park's office

The world gets better thanks to the goodwill, solidarity and hard work of many people, but sometimes it also comes from the tragedy and death of someone. A's family refrained from interviewing. Instead, he delivered a brief impression that “it took too long” through an agent. A lot has changed, but the deceased never comes back. As much as I loved my work, I just wish for the well-being of the deceased who wanted to be compensated for their pain.