KLM Royal Dutch Airlines embroiled in controversy over racist treatment of Koreans
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines embroiled in controversy over racist treatment of Koreans
  • Kim Min-jee
  • 승인 2020.02.14 10:27
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A "Crew-only toilet" note posted in Korean in the bathroom of KLM Flight 855 to Seoul from Amsterdam, Netherlands, on Feb. 10. 

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has been embroiled in controversy over its racist treatment of Korean passengers by posting a note written in Korean "Crew-only toilet" in its in-flight bathroom.

According to aviation industry sources on Feb. 12, a man who boarded the KLM flight (KL855) from Amsterdam to Incheon in the Netherlands on Feb. 10 found a piece of paper on the door of the in-flight bathroom with the words "Crew-only toilet" written in Korean.

Korean and foreign passengers were on board the flight, which meant that only Korean passengers who could read the Korean language could not use the restroom.

When he was surprised to find it and took picture of the relevant words, the vice-director of the plane told him to delete the picture, saying that he could not take pictures on the plane under Dutch regulations.

In response, the man asked why the airlines changed the in-flight bathroom to crew-only and whether it was written only in Korean, not English, and the KLM said it was a decision made to protect the crew from customers of potential new coronavirus infections (Corona 19).

Regarding the reason for writing it in Korean, the vice director said, "Is that a bad feeling, then I will write it in English as well." The man informed it through his SNS account and pointed out why KLM only prevented Korean passengers from using the bathroom if it aimed at protecting the crew.

As such information is known on SNS, KLM made its official position on Feb. 12. The KLM explained that in accordance with the decision of the captain and the office manager, the company sometimes operates a crew-only toilet.

As for the situation in which the toilet was only introduced in Korean for the in-flight crew, it apologized, saying, "We are very sorry for what the passengers felt as discriminatory acts, although the crew did not intend to do so."

As the controversy spread, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport officially warned KLM, which took discriminatory measures such as labeling the bathroom "only for crew members" in Korean and asked them to come up with measures to prevent a recurrence.

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