Emirates drew some red flags from eagle-eyed viewers after the wrong Korean flag was displayed during a cabin crew graduation ceremony.
Since 2022, the Dubai-based carrier has hosted recruitment events across 340 cities worldwide, and has now passed a milestone, reaching 20,000 cabin crew team members in August 2023.
However, a recent graduation ceremony held for newly-minted cabin crew members stoked online criticism when the airline displayed the flag of North Korea when a South Korean cabin crew member walked on stage to receive her certificate.
For reference, this is what the South Korean flag looks like:
The leaked photo was first flagged by a cabin crew Facebook group and the website A Fly Guy’s Cabin Crew Lounge.
The photo was posted on August 11, 2023. However, it is not known when the ceremony took place.
This is not the first time that Emirates has managed to become tangled in controversy surrounding a flag.
Emirates cabin crew previously wore flag pins on their uniforms to identify where they were from. In 2017, a cabin crew from Taiwan was instructed by the airline to swap her flag pin to that of China’s, sparking outcry and anger from social media.
According to a report from The Guardian, the airline advised staff via an email that the Chinese government instructed Emirates to adhere to the One China policy, where countries can maintain formal diplomatic relations with China or Taiwan, but not both.
Due to the social backlash, Emirates decided to forego the flag pins on cabin crew uniforms.