Korean Air’s infamous former “Nut Rage” executive, Heather Cho, has been charged by South Korean prosecutors for violating the country’s aviation law and obstructing a government investigation.
These charges stem of a December incident at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport where the Cho, 40, forced one of the airline’s jets to abort takeoff and return to the gate after reacting violently to being served macadamia nuts in a manner not conforming with company policy.
In addition, Cho — Korean Air’s former head of in-flight service — kicked the head flight attendant off of the aircraft.
The former executive’s actions caused departure to be delayed by 20 minutes. The flight — an Airbus A380 superjumbo — arrived in Seoul 11 minutes late.
Cho, daughter of Korean Air and Hanjin Group chairman Cho Yang-ho, was taken into custody last week, along with another Korean Air executive who is accused of an attempted cover-up.
Cho is accused of “threatening the safety of the flight and causing confusion in law and order,” said prosecutor Kim Chang-hee on Korean television.
An attorney spokesman for the Korean Bar Association told the AP that Cho faces up to 15 years in prison, should she be found guilty of all four charges.
According to the spokesman, the most serious charge levied against Cho is for forcing the flight to deviate from its normal route.
This carries a maximum penalty of 10 years. The three other charges — the use of violence against the flight crew, obstructing a government investigation, and forcing the aircraft’s head flight attendant off the plane — carry a combined total of five years in prison.
In addition to her legal problems, Cho’s father announced soon after the incident that she had been fired from all positions within the company. In addition, the elder Cho publically apologised in front of the press for his daughter’s actions and for not doing a better job as a parent.
Korean prosecutors took up the case after a probe by the Country’s transportation ministry led to allegations that the younger Cho physically assaulted a pair of flight attendants and ordered senior managers to destroy incriminating evidence against her, reported the Korea Times
According to Reuters, a judge with Seoul Western District Court said in statement, “The necessity for detention is recognised as the case is grave and there has been an attempt to systematically cover up charges from the beginning.”
For many Koreans, the “Nut Rage” incident has served as a shocking reminder of the amount power and control family-owned business empires, called “Chaebols,” have on the South Korean economy. Other famous Chaebols include such household names as Hyundai, Samsung, and LG.
The “Nut Rage” scandal has reignited backlash against the family run industrial dynasties. Critics believe Chaebols have an unhealthy amount of influence on South Korea and argue that legislative attempts to curtail them have been weak.
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