Korean Air Nut Rage Brings Former VP to Detention

Korean Air

Korean Air

Korean Air nut rage has brought its former VP to detention when prosecutors arrested 40-year-old Cho Hyun-ah this week for allegedly violating aviation safety laws. Cho, the daughter of Korean Air’s chairman, was the subject of online public commotion, especially among South Koreans, for reportedly delaying a Dec. 5 flight in New York. She was displeased with the service of the crew and forced the plane to go back to the gate to deplane the head crew, Park Chang-jin.

The airline’s policy is to ask passengers before serving nuts, but Cho was not asked, and was served macadamia nuts in bag, not on a plate. As one of the airline’s executives who took a huge part in establishing its corporate identity, Cho was outraged with the disservice which led to deplaning Park. Cho resigned from Korean Air amidst public fury but was subject to investigation by the Transport Ministry of South Korea to check if she flouted regulations.

Such Korean Air nut rage now brings its former VP to detention in Seoul. On Tuesday, a court in South Korea approved her arrest and though there were no criminal charges pressed against her, the country’s law allows arrest of the person in question for up to six months lest the person would destroy evidence or flee. Cho was brought to a detention facility in Seoul when arrested on Wednesday, a day after the approval of the warrant.

Another executive of the airline surnamed Yeo likewise has an arrest warrant for alleged concealment of the case, which is subject to government sanctions. The court mentioned that since the incident, there were attempts to cover up Cho’s actions.

The office of the Seoul Western Prosecutors said Cho would confront charges like inflight violence and changing of flight route. The local media was told by a passenger on the December 5 flight that Cho threatened the crew members while Park told KBS TV that he was insulted and had to kneel before Cho.

South Koreans who are frustrated with affluent family members, called “chaebol,” of business groups who influence the economy, were upset by Cho’s behavior. Cho’s siblings are also executives of Korean Air and its affiliates. Their father, Cho Yang-ho is chairman of the Hanjin Group of companies which, aside from Korean Air, has Hanjin Shipping Company and Hanjin Transportation Co. He also is at the helm of the organizing committee of the upcoming 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

The transport ministry of South Korea was criticized for alleged sluggish investigation of the incident by its investigators, which could be an attempt to protect Cho. Most of the investigators were connected with the Korean Airline, the nation’s largest.

However, the ministry takes action. One of its officials was arrested last week for leaking probe information to Yeo via phone conversations and text messages. Early this week, four of its officials were punished, for their misconduct during the investigation.

Meanwhile, Cho’s younger sister Cho Hyun-min, whose English name is Emily, is joining the expanding nut rage when her alleged text message to her elder sister Cho was released by the prosecutors. The message reportedly had Emily pledging to “take revenge,” but was not clear to whom should the vengeance be. The message is said to have been sent two weeks back, when her sister was stripped of all her positions at the airline. The younger Cho apologized for her actions Wednesday morning. Indeed, the Korean Air nut rage has gone a long way by bringing its former VP to detention, and now another family member is into the picture.

By Judith Aparri

The World Post
Talking Points Memo
The Wall Street Journal

Photo courtesy of Charlie_tj – Flickr License