Korean Air ex-VP likely to face trial for ‘nut rage’ incident

December 15, 2014
Korea Airline ex-vice president Heather Cho (Korea Times file)

Korea Airline ex-vice president Heather Cho (Korea Times file)

By Jung Min-ho

Former Korean Air Vice President Heather Cho is likely to be face trial for violating the country’s Aviation Safety Law, prosecutors said Monday.

She will be summoned for questioning Wednesday over allegations that she used abusive language and violence toward flight attendants and ordered a plane to return to the gate last week, angered by how macadamia nuts were served to her.

The Seoul Western District Prosecutors’ Office said it may seek an arrest warrant for Cho after questioning her because “she could attempt to destroy evidence.”

Park Chang-jin, the cabin crew chief who was kicked off the plane by Cho, told reporters that the company had asked him to give a false statement on the case after the “nut rage” case triggered a public outcry.

Investigators have already secured key evidence, including the testimony of the only other first-class passenger who sat in front of Cho on the plane.

During the investigation, the witness, who was identified only by her surname Park, testified that Cho cursed at flight attendants and hit one of them with the company’s service guidebook.

Aviation law bans any behavior that disturbs aircraft operations by either force or authority. Also, passengers are not allowed to yell or use violent language for safety reasons.

Any violator could face up to 10 years in jail.

Park told TV reporters last week, “After the incident made headlines, a Korean Air official offered me a model airplane and a calendar, asking me to speak well about what happened in media interviews.”

Prosecutors believe that text messages Park sent to her friend, while the plane was returning to the gate, will be helpful in making their case in court.

Prosecutors expect an ongoing examination of the plane’s black box will shed light on the allegations raised against Cho, a 40-year-old daughter of Korean Air Chairman Cho Yang-ho.

After the incident, Cho was also accused of ordering the phone messages of flight attendants on the plane to be inspected.

Some high-ranking officials of Korean Air are expected to face questioning on suspicions of trying to hide and destroy evidence.

The incident happened on Dec. 5 on a flight bound for Incheon International Airport. Cho ordered the chief flight attendant to get off the plane because she was dissatisfied with a junior attendant who served her a packet of macadamia nuts without removing them from a bag and putting them on a plate. The aircraft had to return to the departure gate so the chief attendant could leave.

According to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, which investigated the case before prosecutors, Cho said she drank some wine before getting on the plane.

Meanwhile, some members of Korean Air labor union have accused the company of forcing them to get medical examinations at INHA International Medical Center, where Cho’s husband works as a plastic surgeon.

Earlier this week, Cho resigned as the firm’s vice president and head of its affiliated companies.

In the wake of the “princess fury,” there has been growing criticism of ostentatious wealth and unfettered power, directed in particular at the new generation of chaebol scions who are inheriting the business empires founded by their fathers and grandfathers.


  1. Pingback: Korean Air Exec Kicked Out A Senior FA While Taxing Over A Pack of Macadamia Nuts - Page 10 - FlyerTalk Forums

  2. rufus

    December 16, 2014 at 5:21 PM

    The more I read about this abuse of power, the more it sickens me. This is the kind of thing you’d expect to see on a drama.

  3. 2017

    January 6, 2018 at 2:13 AM

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