Korean Air senior vice-president Cho Hyun-ah, the daughter of airline chairman Cho Yang-ho, has resigned from her position following an onboard incident earlier this month in what has been called “nut rage.”
According to the BBC, on a December 5 flight from New York to Incheon, the 40-year-old became enraged when senior flight attendant Park Chang-jin served her macadamia nuts in a bag instead of a small dish – something Cho believed was first-class procedure.
Knowing she is the daughter of the airline’s chairman, Chang-jin and another fellow attendant even dropped to their knees in front of her to beg for forgiveness. He also claims that as he was begging, Hyun-ah swore at them, pointed with her finger as they were kneeling and poked the back of his hand with the corner of a flight manual book.
She eventually forced the pilots to bring the taxiing plane full of 250 passengers back to the gate in order to kick out Chang-jin from the plane. Flight 86 did continue its journey to Incheon, however, it arrived at the airport 20 minutes behind schedule due to Cho’s antics.
Park told a South Korean television station he had to take a different flight home and that five to six officials from Korean Air visited his residence everyday pleading him to provide government authorities with a false account of what transpired that day. They wanted him to tell investigators that Hyun-ah did not use abusive language and that he volunteered to disembark from the plane.
Over the past week, there has been a public uproar in South Korea over the incident. Hyun-ah has publicly apologized at a press conference and visited the homes of the two employees she scolded, although both were away when she arrived so she left them a letter of apology instead.
She no longer holds any positions or titles with the company and faces a government investigation to determine whether she violated any aviation safety regulations.
Chairman Yang-ho has also apologized for his daughter’s “foolish act” and regrets that he did not raise her “better.”
Yesterday, South Korea’s transportation ministry announced that the airline could be given sanctions of up to a month of flight suspensions on certain routes or a $2-million fine. Prosecutors are also inquiring the actions of the cabin crew and whether they were coerced to provide a false testimony to protect Hyun-ah.
While South Koreans have reacted negatively online to the national embarrassment brought by Hyun-ah and Korean Air’s actions, macadamia nut sales in the country have exploded.
Feature Image: Korean Air via Shutterstock