Korean Air Chairman Fires Two Daughters Over Rage Incidents

Add Hanjin Group’s Korean Air Lines Co. to the country’s family-run conglomerates that are seeing the founding clan’s representation diluted.

Cho Hyun-ah and her younger sister Cho Hyun-min will both resign from Korean Air after their father, company chairman Cho Yang-ho, apologised for their “immature” actions (AFP Photo/JUNG YEON-JE)


This time, Hanjin Chairman Cho Yang-ho pushed out his youngest daughter after allegations she threw water in the face of an advertising agency worker during a business meeting. For good measure, he also fired his eldest daughter who four years ago spent five months in jail after the so-called nut rage incident. The executive had forced a plane to return to the gate at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York because of the way she’d been served her macadamia nuts.

Cho Yang-ho, also chairman of Korean Air, said in an email Sunday he will promote professional business managers to replace the airline’s Senior Vice President Emily Cho, his youngest daughter, and Heather Cho, president of the Kal Hotel Network. The chairman announced the changes days after South Korean police had searched Korean Air headquarters following reports of the “water rage” incident.

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South Korea’s family-run conglomerates from Samsung Group to Hyundai Motor Group and Lotte Group have been under intensifying pressure from investors and the government to improve transparency and reduce cross-shareholdings that have kept the groups firmly under family control.

Korean Air’s net income will probably fall 46 percent his year to 430.8 billion won ($403 million), according the average of 13 analyst estimates. The airline’s stock, which gained 0.9 percent in early trading Monday, is down about 6.3 percent since April 12, when local media first reported the alleged water rage incident.


Former Korean Air Lines executive Heather Cho (C) is surround by reporters as she is released at a courthouse in Seoul, South Korea, May 22, 2015. REUTERS/Hwang Kwang-Mo/Yonhap

Former Korean Air Lines executive Heather Cho (C) is surrounded by reporters as she is released at a courthouse in Seoul, South Korea, May 22, 2015. REUTERS/Hwang Kwang-Mo/Yonhap

Former Korean Air Lines executive Heather Cho is surround by reporters as she is released at a courthouse in Seoul, South Korea, May 22, 2015. REUTERS/Hwang Kwang-Mo/Yonhap

Former Korean Air Lines executive Heather Cho is surrounded by reporters as she is released at a courthouse in Seoul, South Korea, May 22, 2015. REUTERS/Hwang Kwang-Mo/Yonhap

Former Korean Air Lines executive Heather Cho walked free after nearly five months in prison on Friday after an appeals court suspended the sentence she was given for her outburst over the way she had been served macadamia nuts (in a bag versus on a plate).

Cho, the daughter of the airline’s chairman, was sentenced in February to one year in prison over the Dec. 5 incident at New York’s John F. Kennedy airport, where she forced a plane to return to its gate in order to expel the flight’s crew chief.

The “nut rage” case provoked mirth as well as outrage in South Korea, where many people are fed up with what they see as heavy-handed conduct by the rich and powerful.

Her lawyer said after the ruling that Cho felt remorse for the suffering she caused among the crew members who were subjected to her outburst.

Cho, 40, did not answer questions from reporters as she left the court surrounded by Korean Air employees and after she changed into personal clothes from her prison uniform. She was driven away in a black car.

Prosecutors were not immediately available for comment on whether they would appeal the ruling.

The court upheld Cho’s conviction, finding her guilty of breaking South Korea’s aviation law, but reduced her sentence to 10 months, which it suspended. It noted her previous lack of a criminal record and that she is the mother of young twins.

“The defendant would have had a chance to reflect sincerely on the mental anguish she caused in the victims during the five months she spent in the darkest place in society while in detention and away from family,” Judge Kim Sang-hwan said.

Cho’s lawyer did not say if Cho would appeal her conviction.

A lower court ruled in February that the airline’s former vice president and head of in-flight service had violated the law by ordering the plane to return to its gate.

Cho faces a civil suit filed in New York by a flight attendant involved in the incident for damage caused to her career, reputation and emotional health, seeking unspecified damages.

Cho resigned from all posts at the airline after the incident became public. Her outburst began when she was served macadamia nuts in a bag, not a dish, while seated in the first class cabin of the A380 jumbo jet.

She is the oldest of Korean Air chairman Cho Yang-ho’s three children. Her siblings are executives with the airline.



Heather Cho may have boosted Hawaiian Macadamia nut sales but she humiliated her family beyond expectations!

South Korean prosecutors have applied for an arrest warrant for Heather Cho, the daughter of a Korean Air executive who delayed a flight because she was unhappy about how she was served nuts, in an incident that caused a national uproar.

The prosecutors office said the 40-year-old daughter of the airline’s chief executive faced charges including violation of the aviation safety law, coercion and interference in the execution of duty.

“Our office has sent a request for the court to issue an arrest warrant,” the prosecutors office said.

Ms Cho was accused of forcing the chief cabin crew member off a December 5 New York-Seoul flight and of compelling the taxiing plane to return to the gate, after she took exception to being served macadamia nuts she had not asked for – and in a bag, not a bowl.

A government investigation found that she had screamed and hurled abuse at a flight attendant and the chief purser, Park Chang-Jin.

An arrest warrant is also being sought for an unidentified company executive on charges of destroying evidence from the incident.

A court will hold a hearing early next week to review the warrant application.

Ms Cho has insisted she did not physically assault Mr Park, but prosecutors said she had pushed the flight attendant, based on the testimony of passengers and other flight attendants.

Mr Park claimed that Ms Cho pushed him into the cockpit door and jabbed him with a service manual.

Ms Cho – one of three children of Korean Air boss Cho Yang-Ho, the patriarch of business conglomerate Hanjin Group – has publicly apologized and resigned from all her posts in the organisation.

Prosecutors are also investigating Korean Air officials who coerced cabin crew to give false testimony to government inspectors to protect Ms Cho.

Investigators raided the office of a transportation ministry official who is suspected of leaking some details of the ministry’s investigation.

The ministry has vowed to sanction the airline with a flight ban, most likely on the New York-Seoul route, that could last for up to a month, or with fines of up to $2 million.

Cho forced the flight attendants to kneel in front of her in order to apologize!

Senior flight attendant Park Chang-jin told South Korea’s KBS television network the Korean Air executive — Heather Cho, daughter of Korean Air chairman Cho Yang-ho — humiliated him after she was offered macadamia nuts in a bag instead of a plate as the plane was about to depart New York’s JFK Airport for Seoul.

The flight attendant says Cho humiliated him after she was served macadamia nuts in a manner not to her liking. (Photo: Getty Images)

“People who haven’t experienced will not understand that feeling of being insulted and shamed,” Park said.

He said he and another flight attendant actually had to kneel before Cho to apologize for the nut mishap. But, he says, Cho responded by poking the back of his hand with the flight manual and yelling for the crew to “call right now and stop the plane. I will stop this plane from leaving.” Park said when the plane returned to the gate, he got off and took a separate flight home.

Later, as the incident was making international news, Park said airline officials repeatedly asked him to lie about what happened and say that Cho wasn’t abusive. Aviation officials are investigating Cho to see if her on-board power trip violated aviation laws.

Korean Air ‘nut rage’ executive Heather Cho resigns.

A Korean Air executive who delayed a plane because she was angry with the way she had been served nuts by an air steward has resigned, the airline says.

Heather Cho, a vice-president of the airline and daughter of its chairman, had demanded the crew member be removed from a flight last Friday for failing to serve the nuts on a plate.

The Incheon-bound flight had to taxi back to the terminal in New York.

The airline has apologised, but said she had had the support of the pilot.

The flight eventually arrived in South Korea 11 minutes behind schedule.

Local media reports said that a junior attendant had offered Ms Cho macadamia nuts in a bag, instead of serving the nuts on a plate.

Ms Cho then questioned the chief flight attendant over in-flight service standards and ordered him off the plane.

The airline told Korea Times that checking quality of service was one of Ms Cho’s jobs, as she was responsible for in-flight service for the carrier.

It also said the crew member had replied with “lies and excuses” when challenged over the correct nut-serving procedure.

But transport authorities are investigating whether Ms Cho’s actions infringed aviation law.

“Even though she is senior vice-president at the company, she was a passenger at that time, so she had to behave and be treated as a passenger,” a South Korea transport ministry official told reporters.

On the bright side…

A KOREAN Air Lines executive’s tantrum over bagged nuts in a first-class cabin is drawing enough attention to give Hawaii’s $38 million macadamia nut industry a boost.

Cho Hyun-ah, an airline vice president of cabin service and daughter of the company’s chairman, ordered a flight attendant off a December 5 flight from New York City after she was served macadamia nuts in a bag instead of on a plate.

The incident dubbed “nut rage” imploded her career, embarrassed her family and led to an unexpected boom in sales of macadamias in South Korea.

Some producers told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that’s also helping Hawaii, home to more than 700 macadamia nut farms and eight processing plants.


“Any type of publicity is good for the industry,” Hawaii Macadamia Nut Association President John Cross said. “Macadamia nuts are not well-known outside of Hawaii and the West Coast. If they were as well-known in the Central and Eastern U.S., there wouldn’t be enough nuts to supply demand.”

Almost all of Hawaii’s macadamia nuts come from the Big Island. They are also grown in Australia, Central America and South Africa.

“If anything should be served on a silver tray, it should be macadamia nuts,” Richard Schnitzler, president of Hamakua Macadamia Nut Co., said with a laugh, referring to the in-flight outburst. “It’s a high-quality nut. It’s understandable how that can happen.”

He said it would be difficult to track a recent surge in sales because sales are always up during the holiday season.

Macadamias are now a household name in South Korea, and with curiosity about their taste piqued, sales are booming.

South Korea’s largest online shopping retailer, Gmarket, owned by eBay, said macadamia nut sales jumped 20 times from one week to the next earlier this month.



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