Are you ready and trained to deal with a ‘’crisis situation’’ as a close protection agent? Erdogan’s case

We have always supported the need for a continuum of training, qualification, and evaluation for people who work throughout the security industry. Our type of profession requires operatives who can perform perfectly in any number of situations that may require hard physical activities, training in various disciplines, possession of comprehensive knowledge when it comes to security measures, and, most crucially, a sharp mind and the ability to take actions and react fast in a crisis situation. It is we who are required to act calmly and with steadfast resolve when others (civilians) have lost all sense of control. For example, I would like to bring to your attention an incident that took place in Turkey some years ago involving Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, an incident that was riddled with many mistakes, one after another, by his Close Protection Team. It was this particular security failure that was one of the primary reasons that lead to major changes in the security details in Turkey.

According to sources, Mr. Erdogan, a few minutes after leaving the Turkish Parliament and entering his vehicle, started feeling unwell and lost consciousness. His chauffeur and his close protection agent panicked. And from that moment forward, a series of mistakes in a sequence began to unfold.

Neither the chauffeur nor the close protection agent had any background or training in First Aid. When they saw their client in the back of the car, passed out, they immediately drove the car, at reckless speeds, to get to the hospital that was in the other part of the town. In hindsight, they should have driven to the Parliament Health Center which was quite close to them. While speeding enroute to the hospital, they managed to lose the rest of their security convoy and found themselves all alone racing through the streets.

When they finally arrived at the hospital, both driver and close protection agent got out of the vehicle at the same time, and found themselves in yet another embarrassing circumstance, putting their client in a potentially dangerous situation, according to the Hurriyet Press.

‘’ Erdogan’s chauffeur, flung himself in a panic from the Mercedes Tuesday morning in front of Ankara’s Guven Hospital, inadvertently leaving the keys to the car in the ignition, which meant the locks on none of the doors, which had shut automatically, could be opened. It took security detail members 10 minutes to break open the window of the armored Mercedes, valuable time, say, doctors, who note that had Erdogan experienced any health problems more serious than a hypoglycemic faint, he could have died during that period.’’

Although this specific incident might work as a valuable advertisement for Mercedes armored cars, regarding how difficult is to break their windows, it certainly placed Mr. Erdogan in a dangerous situation and his security team in an awkward and quite embarrassing position. As their client was laying unconscious inside the car, his security team struggled for about 10 minutes to break the thick window of the armoured car, aided by workers at a construction site near the hospital who brought a sledgehammer and a chisel. 

According to the New York Times, ”the newspaper Hurriyet called it “a security scandal,” while another paper, Sabah, asked, “What if the prime minister was having a heart attack?” 

While we all may offer up a number of solutions for this incident, there are a couple of basic truths that, when followed, will alleviate most of these types of issues. Possessing second sets of keys for our client’s sedans is a godsend in a moment like this. As we are all clearly aware, the driver should NEVER leave the vehicle. If this little truth had been adhered to, there would not have been the excruciatingly long moments trying to break into the sedan. And had the driver kept the convoy together as a unit, there is a good chance that several of the mishaps could have been avoided altogether. This is a prime example of the need for SOP’s that would address many of these issues, and with continued training, could eradicate mistakes that have serious consequences.

Following that incident, some of the crucial changes to Erdogan’s security detail were that a doctor will accompany the Prime Minister on both domestic and international trips, an ambulance will also be included as a part of Erdogan’s normal convoy package, and last, but very importantly, all security Ankara officials agreed that chauffeurs, driving the official vehicles used by the Prime Minister, must go through special “crisis situation” training.

A real-life incident such as this combined with circumstances that anyone of us could be called to deal with illustrates the imperative need to make certain you are properly prepared and thoroughly trained to respond in a professional and effective manner to whatever life may throw in your path. It is always wisest to have skills and training and not need it than to need a particular skill(s) or skillset and not have it or be trained properly in it. Your client will, most likely, never suffer an ill moment or awkward circumstance unless you are unprepared for it. It all rests on you.

Recep Tayyip ErdoganRecep Tayyip Erdogan Photographer: Adem Altan/AFP/Getty Images

Denida Zinxhiria

Protective & Intelligence Services

Founder & CEO

Athena Worldwide

Athena Academy

Nannyguards

At Athena Worldwide we are industry leaders for promoting, training and staffing female bodyguards internationally. With our affiliate offices, we can provide worldwide protective and intelligence services for entertainment professionals, politicians, CEOs, Royal Families, journalists and corporate personnel.
Want to find out more about female bodyguards? visit www.athenaworldwide.com

Maintain good communication and cooperation within your work area

During our career in security industry we will have to work along with people who don’t share the same work beliefs, qualifications, training and experience background with us. So even when we ‘like or dislike’ someone we shouldn’t never allow it to affect our professionalism and make us loose our target, which is client’s safety. If the client is safe then we and our team are safe too.

As we all know Close Protection is a profession that doesn’t have unfortunately until today, professional standards requirements. Each country, even each state has its own licensing requirements and in many times no training is required at all. So with this said, you can realize that you have to work and lock as a team with people who bring with them different experience, skills, training disciplines, standards, professionalism, culture, and ethics.

It is very important each one in the team to promote and maintain good communication and work cooperation with each other, the client, and of course other people who we may be in contact with (house personnel, office staff etc).

Some of the people you are working with may have more skills than you or less, may be younger or elder, so in each situation you must address your inquires to them with respect. Never offend anyone no matter the reason, never correct someone while there is anyone else in present. If you believe he did a mistake because of lack of experience or training you can ask if he/she will like you to give them some tips or advices. Not many people are open to get advices by others. If they refuse, respect it and leave it as it is.

In our work it is very important when an issue occurs instead of loosing time to find out why and how happened or whose fault is, to take immediate action and fix it. Later you can do your research within the team members and find out what happened, why and who is holding the responsibility for it. Finding who did the mistake is not for the reason to be put in the light spot and be blamed, but, inform, correct it and prevent any other similar issues in the future.

Have in mind if you are not the team leader or the supervisor then it is not your responsibility to call and talk with the person who acted unprofessionally or did a mistake. You can inform your supervisor or team leader about the fact of the incident, make sure you leave out ANY PERSONAL CHARACTERIZATIONS for your colleague who did wrong.

The main focus should be how you can operate as an individual within a team but also as a team member who its main target is clients and teams safety.

It is sad but very true and we see it almost every day in online networks or forums, people who hide behind a pc screen and a ‘’nickname’’ accuse colleagues or talk bad about them. First not professional at all, second it is not fair to accuse someone whose identity you have make sure is open and yours remain hidden and most important not able to be verified (your skills, experience, professional stand).

Personally I consider security industry forums, mostly as places for people who like to behave like crying babies, have plenty of free time (cause they are not working) and fill their lives with blaming others. Yes, definitely there are un-professionals and there are professionals as well, but a forum is not the right place to show who is who.

Be careful when you come to juxtaposition with others online, no matter the information or names they are using in networking places still you don’t know with whom you are talking with. Try to avoid those kinds of situations, and if not always try to be polite and not lose your temper. When someone is attacking you online have only one motivation, to break your inner self. Either is an ex colleague, a competitor or someone who want to fill his empty life with causing harm to those who are successful, always try not to feed them by reacting or responding to defend yourself. You, your colleagues and your clients knows who you are.

 

Closing one of my favorite sayings: IF YOU CANT CREATE IT, RESPECT IT

 

Denida Zinxhiria

Athena Academy Founder

CPS

What Experienced Security Professionals are saying about women only courses

“ESI has been in the business of training Protection Specialists for 31 years. Fewer than one percent of our graduates are female agents. The ones that make it are very special women most of whom have extensive experience in the military, police or martial arts. I believe that there are many more competent women who could develop a professional career in personal protection , if the training environment was more conducive to learning free of bias.

Hundreds of studies have been conducted that prove females learn faster and retain more in the absence of males. While it is not true for all females, anecdotal experience confirms that most women absorb training principles better when not surrounded and judged by Alpha Male Types.”

Bob Duggan, President
Executive Security International

http://www.esi-lifeforce.com/

Growing demand for female bodyguards in Britain

 

Jacquie Davis (left) and Helen Cliffe, bodyguards and neighbours   

Jacquie Davis (left) and Helen Cliffe, bodyguards and neighbours Photo: DAN BURN-FORTI

Sitting in a restaurant courtyard in the pretty commuter town of Hertford, Jacquie Davis and Helen Cliffe look like a pair of elegantly dressed, lunching ladies. You’d imagine they were out to enjoy a bit of sunshine before perhaps going for a manicure and picking up the children from school. The reality, however, is very different.

‘We’re worked off our feet at the moment so it’s lovely to have a day off to stock up on cat food,’ says Davis, a smiling woman in a smart white blouse. ‘Between April and November is our busiest time of year, what we call “the season”, when all the rich Arab families come over. Luckily we have a lot of private clients at the moment. What I hate is when you get a member of the royal family. It’s the same thing every year: you have to be vetted by a guy from the Saudi embassy saying, “Oh, my God, you are a woman!” At which point you have to throw one of his blokes on the floor and stamp on his windpipe to prove you can do the job.’

Davis and Cliffe are bodyguards. Over the years they have protected a huge variety of clients, from the Saudi royal family, to Benazir Bhutto, to Liza Minnelli, to J K Rowling. Both aged 48, they are doyennes in an overwhelmingly male field. There are estimated to be about 2,000 bodyguards in Britain, of whom only about 30 are women.

Yet demand is growing all the time. Prince William and Kate Middleton have been seen with a female bodyguard, and study any photograph of a rock star leaving a restaurant, or an oligarch arriving at his football stadium, and the neatly dressed woman in the background you assume is a secretary or mistress is, in fact, far more likely to have a black belt in karate and be scanning the crowds for potential assassins.

Earlier this year the role of the female bodyguard was highlighted when Anna Loginova, a 29-year-old Russian who protected billionaire clients in Moscow, was killed when her own vehicle was carjacked. Loginova had just posed for a men’s magazine in a bikini to demonstrate her belief that a girl ‘should be a girl, not a Terminator’.

‘The stereotype of a bodyguard as a huge man in a suit, wearing an earpiece and dark glasses, is totally inaccurate these days,’ says Laura Webb, a 34-year-old who looks like Meg Ryan’s younger sister, but who, in fact, runs an agency, Global Protection, that specialises in female bodyguards. ‘Most male and female bodyguards have the same skills, but what a female has – which more and more clients require – is an ability to blend in. If you’re working with children, for example, a female can take them to the park or pick them up from school and no one’s sure if she’s the nanny or the mother, whereas a man – however fantastic he may be – will always stand out. We can sit in a restaurant and look as if we belong there, or go shopping with a client. People think we’re a friend, not a heavy. It’s much more discreet.’

Then there is the question of propriety. Arab clients, for example, are often unhappy with the idea of another man being in such proximity to their wives or daughters. Tales of clients who have become unusually close to their bodyguards are legion – Princesses Stephanie of Monaco had relationships with her minder, and Diana, Princess of Wales was rumoured to be inappropriately close to one of hers, Barry Mannakee. ‘Obviously a husband doesn’t have to worry about his wife getting too close to a female bodyguard,’ Webb says.

Few women, of course, will have the traditional bodyguard’s build. Yet, according to Webb, this is unimportant. ‘Bodyguarding is far more about brain than brawn. Most of the job is about assessing risks and minimising them. Much of my time is spent on the computer planning how to keep my clients safe, looking into their travel arrangements, understanding the politics of a country we might be visiting, pinpointing where any threat might be coming from.’

Until recently ‘the Circuit’, as the bodyguarding world calls itself, was an insular industry where virtually everybody was ex-Army or ex-police. But the field has been ostensibly more open since 2003, when the Government set up the Security Industry Authority, which licenses bodyguards who have passed an exam and completed a course, offered by dozens of security firms, in surveillance, firearms drill and defensive and evasive driving (for example, spinning a car 180 degrees to block a suspect vehicle when travelling in convoy).

While not denying the importance of these skills, old hands are sceptical about the value of a bodyguarding ‘certificate’. ‘It’s great that the industry is a bit more open now but a paper CV, however good, counts for nothing,’ confirms Webb, who started her career working in venue security. ‘This job’s always been about word-of-mouth recommendations.’

Nor is bodyguarding a career to embark on straight out of school. ‘You need to be at least 25, because the biggest thing about our job is being a diplomat,’ Davis says, inhaling on one of many Mayfair cigarettes (‘That’s the bodyguard’s diet: nicotine and caffeine’). ‘You have to have learnt how to deal with people and, at 21, you’re too scared to be pushy. I have bullshitted my way into, out of and around so many situations.’

Most candidates are attracted to bodyguarding by the money, with day rates starting at about £300, and rising to as much as £1,000 for the highly experienced. There can also be a huge amount of glamour. ‘Not in a James Bond sort of way,’ Cliffe warns. ‘But we do spend our lives flying all over the world first class and we stay with our clients in five-star hotels and accompany them to fabulous restaurants.’

Yet often the work is decidedly tedious. ‘I laugh when I see a young bodyguard all excited because he’s off to Dubai for the first time,’ Davis says. ‘I wonder if he’ll be so excited when he’s had 100 arguments with the immigration department and paid all the money [for bringing in their own alcohol]. After a while, every city looks the same.’

Then there’s the danger. During her 28 years on the Circuit, Davis has been stabbed in the leg, thrown through a shop window and shot at by Kashmiri snipers. ‘Ultimately, you have to be prepared to take a bullet, especially in this country where you’re not allowed to carry a hand gun,’ she says. ‘I’m nearly 50 and I am shocked that I’m still alive. I was shocked at 30 and I was shocked at 40. I keep saying it’s time to wind down, but I miss doing my job too much. I need the adrenalin.’

What happens in countries where it is legal to carry firearms? ‘Depending on the level of threat, we’ll carry a gun if we’re allowed to do so,’ says Davis. ‘Local contacts can provide us with firearms as and when necessary. Some countries allow a gun on a plane if you’re escorting a politician, some don’t. It all depends.’

Davis’s career began in the Metropolitan Police but, to earn more cash, she began moonlighting, protecting Saudi families in her spare time. In 1980 she took up bodyguarding full-time. Since then she has worked all over the world, mainly with Arab clients but increasingly with Russians and Chinese.

Understandably, she is reluctant to divulge too many details but it’s impossible for her to hide all her irritations. ‘It’s very frustrating working with people who have no understanding of the value of money, who think they can buy anything. There was one 10-year-old Middle Eastern princess I had to take round London. She asked: “Can you go and get me a kitten, a puppy, a baby to play with, and a tiger?” I said I couldn’t get a baby and all hell broke loose. So someone else found one for her. I think she picked it up once. She never got the tiger.’

There have also been several household names. ‘But I’m not really keen on celebrities because so many of them refuse to listen to you. They employ you for your expertise but then they won’t hear it. We turned down Britney Spears recently and then I switched on the TV and saw her in Leicester Square with some man mountain who left her to have a go at a photographer, leaving her unprotected. It was all wrong, but then she wouldn’t have done as she was told with us. That’s why I loved Jo [J K] Rowling. She did what she was told. That’s where it went wrong for Benazir Bhutto. The only person who died in that car was her and that’s because she stuck her head through the sunroof, which her team would have told her not to do. But she was an obstinate cow. I know that from personal experience.’

Cliffe, originally from Manchester, has a military background but has been bodyguarding for nearly 20 years, often in tandem with Davis, including four years on and off protecting the aforementioned Rowling, mainly in America. Of the pair, Davis is the more charming and articulate, while Cliffe is more reserved and intimidating. ‘Occasionally, I have been called the pitbull,’ Cliffe says. ‘And they label the pair of us the two middle-aged witches. Everyone thinks we’re a lesbian married couple but we’re not gay.’

‘There are lesbians on the Circuit but we just don’t happen to be that way,’ Davis adds. ‘Yet everyone assumes it, just like they assume you’ll look like a Russian shotputter.’

Davis had one early disastrous marriage and was unable to have children after a hysterectomy at 23 for ovarian cysts. Cliffe is the single mother of a 10-year-old, Michael. How does she reconcile motherhood with her long absences and unpredictable schedule?

‘A bit of juggling,’ she says. ‘I’m not your typical earth mother or your – what-you-may-call-it – yummy mummy; I don’t do all that. Michael has to fit in with my routine. He doesn’t know anything else. He didn’t like Harry Potter because it took his mummy away. But he got over it. Eventually.’ Friends and family help with babysitting. ‘It’s far more stressful than being shot at, sorting out the childcare.’

Laura Webb agrees that bodyguarding is about the most ‘female unfriendly’ profession imaginable. ‘You have to have the ability to go anywhere at the last minute, to live life on fast-forward, and it really is quite difficult to maintain a family.’ She and her husband, also a bodyguard, have made the decision not to have children. ‘We’ve decided this is what we prefer to do.

She adds that her marriage works because her husband appreciates the demands of her career. ‘He understands that even if I’m exhausted and have been working an 18-hour day seven days a week for months I still can’t go home until the client says so.’

Cliffe and Davis have succeeded largely thanks to the support they have given each other. ‘I look after Michael sometimes, and if I’m away for weeks Helen feeds my cat and waters my garden for me,’ Davis says. They live just a few doors away from each other in a smart part of Hertford. Since their arrival the local Neighbourhood Watch has become somewhat redundant. ‘There were a few problems with teenagers walking around,’ Davis says. ‘We went out and told them their future. And now there are no problems,’ Cliffe says grimly.

She’s interrupted by her phone ringing. After a long conversation she hangs up, looking satisfied. ‘That was the beautician. I went for a facial yesterday and came out in a terrible rash. But they can’t do enough to put it right.’ I bet they can’t. Because fun as Cliffe can be, you really wouldn’t like her when she was angry. Which, I imagine, is what makes her an excellent bodyguard.

jacquiedavis.com ; Global Protection Group, 0870 486 8580

On Alert as a Female Bodyguard

Movie portrayals of bodyguards often belie the reality — and the fact that risk assessment and planning usually take precedence over a gung-ho approach

Electronic and counter surveillance, explosives searching and bomb disposal, firearms training and bullet-proof vests, diplomacy, intelligence and personal security — it’s all part of the training Dublin-born Lisa Baldwin received when she forged an international career as a bodyguard seven years ago.

Baldwin, who is in her mid-20s, is head of the women’s division at the International Bodyguard Association (IBA) in the UK — the biggest such organisation in the world. She started her career as a professional swimmer in Holland and Spain, before getting into the area of personal training in Dublin. Through contacts in the industry, she was offered employment in event security for concerts and celebrity-packed parties, and it was here she learned about the work of the IBA.

She explains: “The association has a base inIreland, but the bigger courses are done in the UK, so I had to travel there and undertake 100 hours of training in order to get my IBA badge. This included a basic master class for five days, then a course in protective driving, explosives searching and electronic surveillance with a former member of MI5. Once I completed that, I undertook firearms training in Slovenia.”

To the average employee, this form of training is likely to sound incredible, given it is rarely witnessed outside ofHollywood blockbusters. Ironically, Baldwin says one of her fellow instructors (who has since passed away) was the inspiration behind the character Q from the James Bond movies.

The market for bodyguards, or ‘close protection surveillance’ as they’re otherwise known, is limited here, as our celebrities tend to be left alone when out in public. So the majority of Baldwin’s work takes her abroad.

However, she believes some Irish elite are shortsighted

when it comes to personal security. “In Ireland, many top business people or celebrities have the old-fashioned attitude of ‘I’ll be grand’, but a lot have poor security and are prime targets, particularly for kidnapping. The Arabs are the complete opposite when it comes to personal secur

ity. Sometimes the VIP will only have a secure driver, but he will spare no expense when it comes to protecting his family. Over there, they see the potential threat their wealth can bring.”

Baldwin is regularly employed by rich Arabs living in or visiting the UK, who, because of their beliefs, tend to prefer hiring female bodyguards. “They don’t like having men near their women,” she says. “Also, females tend to blend in more with the family set-up and are not as easy to spot. People assume we are personal assistants or nannies. In the UK, we call the period from May to September ‘Arab season’, as that’s when our services are required the most, in terms of protecting princesses and their children.”

Baldwin continues: “There is obviously a big Hollywood stereotype of bodyguards with ear pieces or that secret-service vibe, but we prefer a more covert way of communicating with each other without drawing attention to ourselves.”

Her line of work is not without danger, but Baldwin says preparation is key. “You look at each client and assess where the potential threat could come from — is it the paparazzi, a kidnapper, an assassin? The risk assessment helps me prepare for each role; that way, there shouldn’t be any surprises.

“We plan what routes to take when going out, so we can throw people off the scent and not let our patterns become predictable. Sometimes we will bring in a counter-surveillance team if we feel we are being watched.”

Baldwin says the role of a bodyguard does not include taking a bullet for a client if the situation arises. The emphasis is on her security as well as that of the VIP — again, this is underlined by meticulous daily preparation.

“If I’m not happy with the security, I don’t take the contract. I’ve also threatened to walk off jobs because of a potential lapse in security, for example, a really bad driver.”

The main downside to the bodyguard role is the inflexible hours and being away from family for months. But Baldwin says it is also a lucrative career with plenty of scope for travel.

Why Blue Birds? Korea Female Bodyguards

By Choe Young-min

Staff Reporter

Symbolically, it was the bold president of the Korea Nude Model Association in Korea who first ducked under the protective wings of the burgeoning, all-female BlueBird Women’s Bodyguard Team in 1997, recalls the president of the “Bluebirds” Baik Bong-hun.

Coming out to publicly defend the use of the naked female body as art and to advocate the freedom to do so without being subjected to verbal or physical abuse, she was faced with the vulnerability of her own body in private.

By herself in the bathroom or bedroom, where she wasn’t comfortable having her male bodyguards around, she felt most susceptible to the threats by those opposed to what she did and wished her harm. So she finally turned to female bodyguards who could stay with her 24 hours a day, anywhere she went. She called a “BlueBird” to her rescue.

The BlueBird Women’s Bodyguard Team, the strictly female bodyguard group of leading domestic bodyguard company Korea Security Service System (KOSSES), was founded in 1997, and answered to a fluttering demand. Although more than qualified to protect, they are not officially licensed to arrest offenders or attackers although they can shoot in the line of duty.

The imaginary Korean bluebird, after which the team is named, is a symbol of freedom and an ideal place, explained BlueBird Lim Mi-hwa. They have a bird’s-eye view over things, and represent the promise of security. Most importantly, they are supposed to see everything and hear everything, but never reveal anything.

After the initial wave of panic and relief, the demand for female bodyguards died down. Recently, worsening social conditions brought about by the economic crisis have re-ignited a sense of unpredictable dangers and the need for self-protection.

Awareness of safety has always prevailed in Korea, but security measures are yet loosely knit despite recent improvements. “Developing countries usually have better bodyguard organizations than police departments due to bad social circumstances,” says Baik, a master of martial arts who now trains his Bluebirds in the spiritual strengths necessary to stay on the job. “Underground conflicts increase because individuals are driven to watching out for themselves at the price of others, and they often resort to illegal measures which are often very violent.”



The increasing number of break-ins and assaults in homes, including foreign embassy residences, and strife between company management and workers are calling for inconspicuous, in-house security. Family members won’t feel a threatening presence but a reassuring one like that of a sister, mother or friend. All efforts are made to accommodate the need for familiarity by superficially representing the full spectrum of female images.

“New crimes” such as stalking and physical sexual harassment outside the workplace have also been a growing social problem, resulting in gender paranoia. Acts under this category commonly categorized as “new crimes” in Korea were considered harmless, until people realized that they were the potential victims of crime and that they could resort to legal measures to prevent it.

It’s safe to say that few loyalties are more sacred than the one between the bodyguard and the guarded. It’s even more so when the threat is imposed not by a single enemy but takes on the face of the entire opposite sex.

Ironically, the more frequently the BlueBirds are called for special services as female bodyguards for women, the more this costs them their own personal lives as women. Womanhood is an identity they project foremost in their profession, but it is also what they have to sacrifice before everything else.

“I have fears myself,” says Kang Me-ra, 25, who has been a Bluebird from the very beginning. “I have fears like any other woman. But I’m just not scared of people.”

Putting your life on the line for somebody else may seem to be a high enough price in itself, but in truth, the days where not much is going on far outnumber the days where you’re literally risking your life, says the 24-year- old Lim, team leader of the BlueBirds.

On normal days, the members of the Bluebird Women’s Bodyguard Team are burdened with the question of whether sacrificing their lives as women is more important the work that they do.

“It’s hard enough trying to get men to see us as women in the first place. But later, our crazy working schedules are more than the men in our personal lives are willing to take,” says Kang.

Not necessarily by choice, the BlueBirds live and breathe their profession strictly separating it from their emotions as much as they can to stay alert and clear-minded, with the same dedication that has made them so superb in martial arts, shooting, driving, chiropractics and sports massage. All 170cm of their image is strictly controlled by the president, and far from looking hard as steel, they are very feminine in appearance in order not to look intimidating. Dark suits and white shirts, sensible shoes, toned down make-up and hair brushed out of the face are the basics.

Training takes place on a regular schedule with the male members of KOSSES in their gym, but more importantly at public events where there are throngs of unpredictable people in an excited state.

Like President Kim’s bodyguards, the Bluebirds are required to take English lessons, beginning with reassuring language that conveys security. This becomes necessary as the number of foreign female investment bankers and lawyers coming to work or do business in Korea has been increasing. Foreign businesswomen are said to anonymously, but frequently, seek undercover protection for meetings due to discomfort arising from cultural unfamiliarity with what they are going to encounter in a male- dominated society.

Jun Hyun-mi, 22, and Choi Seung-hee, 20, are the youngest newcomers of the Bluebirds and learning the ropes. “It’s different working in a real situation, as can be expected, but we are constantly trained to take and adapt to whatever situation we may encounter swiftly and calmly,” says Jun.