SEOUL, April 18 (Korea Bizwire) — Korean Air has come under fire yet again, as heiress Cho Hyun-min stands accused of throwing a violent tantrum and hurling verbal abuse (and perhaps some water) during a meeting with an ad agency.
Cho, the Korean Air senior vice president, is a younger sister of Cho Hyun-ah, the infamous airline executive behind the ‘nut rage’ incident that made headlines worldwide in 2014 who was subsequently jailed for her actions.
Similar to her sister, Cho Hyun-min has been booked on charges of battery after reports emerged that she allegedly threw a glass of water at staff from HS AD, a Korean Air advertising agency, during a meeting at her Seoul office.
Officials from Seoul Gangseo Police Station said on Wednesday a travel ban was being sought to prevent Cho from fleeing the country.
“According to the statements from people who were at the meeting, vice president Choi splashed a drink at some of the attendees,” police said.
Cho faces a number of accusations from multiple witnesses including throwing a glass and a paper cup containing water and plum juice on separate occasions.
She will have no choice but to face prosecution over ‘special violence crime’ if the accusations prove to be true, as her case involves dangerous objects. Unlike battery charges, those guilty of special violence crimes face punishment even if victims choose not to press charges.
Korean Air is facing a growing public outcry yet again over abuse of power, just a few weeks after Cho Hyun-ah returned to work after a hiatus of more than three years.
The younger Cho has been suspended from work as of April 16 until the outcome of the police investigation is made public, according to the airline, but the move has been met with indifference.
“Even if she were removed from all positions, it would have reminded people of former vice president Cho Hyun-ah who has recently returned as the president of KAL Hotel Network. The lack of action to take responsibility for this case seems to be adding fuel to the fire,” a source close to the industry said.
Two former Korean Air pilots raised their voices when they appeared on Kim Hyun-jung’s News Show on CBS Radio.
One pilot with seven years of experience at the airline said, “Any Korean Air employee knows well members of the Cho family always scream and spew verbal abuse. I’m more surprised at the fact that employees disclosed everything in detail without fearing consequences. I think it has reached a critical point.”
Another pilot lent his voice, saying, “The employees are working hard, but the family owners continue to exhibit undesirable behavior that shows the company in a bad light.
Korean Air has said it is ‘baffled’ that uncorroborated information is being spread by the media and that most coverage has been ‘exaggerated’ and ‘far from the truth’.
Cho’s Controversial American Citizenship
Another controversy surrounding Cho Hyun-ah’s younger sister is her U.S. citizenship. Despite renouncing her South Korean citizenship in the past, she served as a registered board member for Jin Air, a budget carrier owned by KAL between 2010 and 2016 under the name Cho Emily Lee.
Born in August 1983 in Hawaii, Cho went to an international school throughout her teens and graduated from the University of Southern California with a communications degree.
According to South Korea’s aviation laws, non-South Korean citizens can’t serve on the board of directors at a South Korean airline, which could mean that Cho’s tenure as a board member was illegal.
The Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs, under which her lack of eligibility went undetected for six years, is expected to face criticism for the oversight.
Hyunsu Yim (firstname.lastname@example.org)