Subscribe

Prosecutors seek jail for former Korean Air exec who 'threw nutty' over nuts (+video)

The incident touched a nerve in South Korea, where the economy is dominated by family-run conglomerates known as chaebol that often act above the law.

  • close
    Korean Air Lines Chairman Cho Yang-ho said on Thursday he had scolded his daughter for expelling a crew member from a flight over the way she was served nuts in first class.
    View Caption
  • About video ads
    View Caption
of

South Korean prosecutors on Monday recommended three years in jail for the former Korean Air executive charged with endangering flight safety during a tantrum over how she was served macadamia nuts.

Heather Cho, the daughter of Korean Air's chairman, has pleaded not guilty to four charges. In the final day of testimony, she defended her actions as the result of devotion to work and said cabin crew in first class had erred by not following proper procedures.

Cho ordered the chief flight attendant off a Dec. 5 flight after a heated confrontation with cabin crew, forcing the plane to return to the gate at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York. She was angry at being offered nuts in a bag, instead of on a dish. Park Chang-jin, the chief attendant, told the court he and others were treated like "feudal slaves" by Cho.

Her behavior, dubbed nut rage, caused an uproar in South Korea. The incident touched a nerve in a country where the economy is dominated by family-run conglomerates known as chaebol that often act above the law.

Prosecutors are seeking a 2-year jail sentence for Yeo Woon-jin, the Korean Air executive accused of pressuring cabin crew to cover up the incident and lie to investigators from South Korea's transport ministry.

They also called for two years in jail for Kim Woon-sub, a transport ministry official and former Korean Air executive accused of leaking secrets about the ministry's investigation.

In seeking three years in jail for Cho, prosecutors said she stood atop the airline's systematic efforts to cover up the incident, compel employees to lie to government investigators and discredit and blame Park, the chief flight attendant.

The three trial judges are expected to announce their verdicts before Lunar New Year holidays later this month.

During the trial, Cho admitted using violence against one flight attendant by pushing her shoulder and throwing an object at her. A statement from one crew member described Cho as behaving like an "angry tiger."

Lawyers for Cho have not disputed the major elements of the prosecutor's account of events. Instead, they have focused on a technical rebuttal of the charges. That has included trying to demonstrate that the flight attendants didn't know proper service procedures.

On the most serious charge of changing a flight's route, they argued that events fell short of that definition because the plane was only meters (yards) from the gate when it turned back.

Cho, who has been in custody since Dec. 30, said she did not realize the chief flight attendant has law enforcement authority during the flight and that ordering him off the plane was consequently a risk to safety. The "final call" about returning to the gate was made by the captain, she said.

"I think this case happened because of devotion to my work and because I could not be considerate to other people," Cho said.

Last week, cabin crew told the court they were pressured by Korean Air executives to cover up the incident and lie to investigators.

About these ads
Sponsored Content by LockerDome
 
 
Make a Difference
Inspired? Here are some ways to make a difference on this issue.
FREE Newsletters
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.
 

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK