Korean Air CEO Indicted

In December 2014 Cho Hyun-ah, Korean Air’s Vice President for inflight services and daughter of the airline’s Chairman, flew New York JFK – Seoul and had an altercation with a crew member.

She was flying first class, and a flight attendant presented her with an unopened bag of macadamia nuts, rather than asking her if she wanted the nuts and then serving them on a plate per proper procedure. Ms. Cho scolded the flight attendant, and dressed down the purser. She reportedly hit the flight attendant and she ordered the purser off the plane.

The aircraft, which had pushed back 56 feet, returned to the gate to offload the purser. The incident delayed departure by 20 minutes. And the world went ‘nuts’. The Korean Air VP was charged and convicted, faced brief prison time but ultimately won an appeal at the end of last year.

Now her father and head of the airline Cho Yang-Ho is facing charges of embezzling ~ US$17.4 million. Korean Air is owned by Hanjin Group of which he’s also Chairman.

In addition to that embezzlement he’s accused of taking US$135 million “from the state insurance agency in medical care benefits by illegally running a pharmacy under a borrowed name.”

He was previously accused of evading US$54 million in inheritance taxes from his father’s passing, but the statute of limitations had expired when the evasion surfaced. Though charged, Cho Yang-Ho has not been detained.

This comes amidst an attempted reform of South Korea’s family-run conglomerates, of which Hanjin Group is among the most prominent.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Korean Air is best! I Had a wonderful time. The food was excellent and the seat was amazing. The service was good and everyone was helpful and in assisting me with some great respect. I had a great time.

  2. Scolded, huh? I like that. So now, drill sergeants don’t scream in your face, they scold you. Lol.

  3. Gary,

    You never have much mi e to say about labor unions, but I invite you to think about their role here.

    When the nut rage VP humiliated staff,she did so against some union leaders. They had access to the media, and knew how to organize, and hoisted her in her own petard. Without that union, things would look very different..

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