Last December, during a Korean Air flight from New York to South Korea, a flight attendant was thrown off the flight for serving macadamia nuts to the daughter of the airline’s chairman. When Heather Cho was served the nuts in a bag instead of a porcelain bowl, she reportedly flew into a rage and assaulted flight attendant Kim Do-hee, both verbally and physically. Cho, who is herself a Korean Air executive, is currently serving a one-year prison sentence in a South Korean jail for the incident. Kim has decided to sue the now-former chairman, Cho, and Korean Air.
The lawsuit was filed on Monday in the Queens County Supreme Court of New York and was announced by the Weinstein Law Firm, which is representing Kim. Andrew J. Weinstein, founder of the Weinstein Law Firm, was quoted as saying, “This case will demonstrate that Heather Cho’s actions were not only humiliating, degrading and damaging to Ms. Kim, but were also emblematic of Ms. Cho’s unbridled arrogance and disturbing sense of entitlement.” In Seoul, South Korea, during Cho’s trial, Kim stated that she was offered a position as a college professor from Korean Air in exchange for her cooperation in Cho’s trial.
The charges for which Cho is currently serving jail time include obstructing the safety of the flight with her outburst. Korean Air originally tried to cover up for the disgraced, former executive vice president, but she was forced to resign shortly after the incident. Although Korea has a history of treating higher-class families with more leniency when it comes to criminal charges, this does not seem to be the case with Cho. After the public embarrassment, the Cho family will have a very hard time regaining the respect of many. Cho’s disgrace will be a black mark not only on the family, but on Korean Air for years to come. The South Korean judge in Cho’s case had said that she had
Kim was originally seeking to settle privately and out-of-court with Korean Air, but the counsel for the airline made no offer of a settlement to her counsel, so the issue will be taken to court. The chief steward, Park Chang-jin, who was on-board the flight when Kim was berated by Cho, was also booted off the flight from New York. After the incident with the nuts, both Park and Kim bowed before Cho to beg forgiveness for the mistake, unfortunately, this was not effective, and Cho turned her ire on Park before deciding to have her thrown off the flight as well.
Korean Air Chairman Cho Yang-ho apologized for the incident after much uproar by the media and sympathizers. The apology may be too late, as the incident has already damaged Kim’s reputation and career. Korean Air has so far not commented on the lawsuit. Even with Kim’s lawsuit in place she still remains an employee of Korean Air, although, she is currently on leave until March 18. This lawsuit really is what one should expect after this Korean Air ‘nut rage’ incident.
By James Dixson
Picture by: Curimedia – Flickr License