ISSN : 0023-3900
This paper examines the hard work, skill, and social capital of female insurance agents and their success in gwonyu gaip (solicitation subscription) sales, which fueled the rapid growth of the insurance industry in South Korea from the 1960s through the 1980s. Such success is even more striking considering the systemic discrimination female agents faced within the industry, even as male agents got away with actual misconduct. This paper argues that female agents’ high success in solicitation sales facilitated the economic value of the social network in individual insurance sales, and broke down the negative utility of the social network in the male-centered business world. Persistent gender bias in the insurance industry resulted in the feminization of insurance sales, providing much-needed employment opportunities for women from the 1960s to the 1980s, but at a cost: female agents were unfairly viewed as overbearing and unprofessional, which undercut their credibility and led to client mistrust, policy cancellations, and agent resignations.