Attractive Women Paid to Work Out at Korean Gyms

New light is being cast on the employment of young, attractive women by health centers in Korea in order to attract male customers.

On July 16, a job advertisement titled “Work out two hours per day and earn money (female)” was uploaded by a large fitness center in Mapo-gu on job search website Albamon. Searching for three female employees, the listing’s qualifications were clear and simple: applicants should be born between 1986 and 1996 (between 20 to 30 years old), be taller than 165 centimeters (5.4 feet), and weigh less than 50 kilograms (110 pounds). In exchange for working out each day for two hours, the gym claims it will pay the women 10,000 won (9 USD) per hour.

Meanwhile, a representative of the fitness center said, “This is a classic method in the industry,” and, “There have already been about ten inquiries in only half a day since uploading the ad.” They also added that “Out of 1,000 members, the gender ratio is only two women for every eight men, so we need to utilize top-level women in our marketing. It might not be ethically sound, but there is no problem from a legal perspective.”

The representative also added that the strategy is “nothing new” in the fitness industry. Many centers offer free membership or pay hourly wages to recruit celebrities, models, and even normal women to join their gyms.

However, many experts are concerned that the practice leads to a commodification of women’s bodies and encourages discrimination among women. Kim Moon Jo, a professor of sociology at Korea University, says, “To put it simply, by recruiting beautiful women these gyms intend to ‘beautify’ the gyms themselves.” He also pointed out, “It is not fair to differentiate based on physical standards.”

What do you think about this practice?

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