College Grads Turn to Saunas in Tough Job Market

      February 24, 2012 07:46

      More young people in their 20s and 30s are working at local saunas and offering body scrubs, a job traditionally dominated by those in their 40s or older.

      A private institute that teaches body scrubbing skills in Yeongdeungpo, Seoul, had over 60 jobseekers in their 20s and 30s enroll last year out of a total of 200 trainees, or twice as many from this age group as was the case in 2009.

      Another institute in Dongdaemun saw the percentage of its younger apprentices surge from 15 percent in 2009 to 25 percent last year, it said.

      People learn body scrubbing skills at a private institute in Jongno, Seoul on Tuesday.

      According to an industry association of Korean saunas, spas and vocational training institutes that teach related skills, out of 30,000 to 40,000 body scrubbers and professional masseurs nationwide, about 2,000 are estimated to be in their 20s and 30s.

      Their numbers have soared over the last decade due to the recession-hit economy and tough job market. Most are at least high school graduates, and some have college or university degrees. Many young jobseekers are turning to saunas and spas as a last resort. The skills can be obtained in a month by attending a private institute and the monthly income of about W2 million makes the job more attractive.

      A 29-year-old man who has been working 12 hours a day in a sauna in Gangnam, Seoul since the end of last year, said, "Because the job is physically demanding and has a low social standing, I initially felt frustrated by the fact that this was all I could find with my university degree. But as I got better acquainted with the job, I realized that it requires professional techniques, and the pay is also pretty good."

      A 35-year-old housewife who has been attending classes since the end of last year said, "After I graduated from a two-year college, I had a series of part-time, temporary jobs for about a decade. Then I got married, and now I'm in my mid-thirties, so getting a job is even harder. I decided to learn this skill because the job does not discriminate according to age or gender."

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