Arrest Warrant Being Sought For Nutty Korean Air Executive

Filed Under: Korean Air

It has been over a week since I’ve written about one of the nuttiest incidents the airline industry has ever seen, whereby a Korean Air executive had an A380 turned around because she was served nuts in a bag instead of on a plate.


To start, for those of you that have been living under a rock, see these previous posts:

As I stated before, I’m almost sorta kinda starting to feel bad for Heather Cho. It’s clear she grew up with a golden spoon in her mouth and was given her position at Korean Air by her dad. She was clearly just never taught how to treat people. So to some degree I do feel bad for her, because she has been publicly shamed in Korea unlike anyone else. And that’s well deserved, don’t get me wrong.

But it looks like the situation for Heather Cho might get even worse, as prosecutors are seeking an arrest warrant for her.

Via CNN:

South Korean prosecutors are seeking an arrest warrant for the former Korean Air executive Heather Cho who sparked outrage by kicking a flight attendant off a plane for serving macadamia nuts the wrong way.

The warrant would cover charges of violating aviation safety rules, including a change in a flight plan, assault on a plane, coercion and interference in the execution of duty, the Seoul Western District Prosecutors’ office said Wednesday.

A decision will be taken on issuing of the warrant early next week after a review procedure, the prosecutors’ office said.

Goodness gracious!

Does she deserve to be arrested, or are they just trying to make an example of her at this point?

  1. I think it is warranted. If a passenger on the plane is directing the flight crew, that is a safety issue that should be dealt with. Korean Air should face penalties for allowing this to happen as well.

  2. She may have been raised exactly the way her father treats people around him, treat people with less money/status around her as serfs.

    There are rich young kids in Asia that doesn’t know how to peel a banana, because their parents hired servants to peel and cut them up for them.

    And Yes, this is an attempt to make an example. Kill one to warn a hundred. Once this blows over though, things will be the same. The culture won’t change due to one case.

  3. Heather is getting a serious comeuppance.

    It’s too bad that she was raised so poorly by her parents. Because now real life is teaching her some lessons her parents thought she’d never have to learn.

    To answer your question: Both. She deserves to be arrested, and she is being made an example. Some would say she’s earned both.

  4. I totally agree with the seriousness. If this goes on, the smallest of incidents will result in such kinds of non-sense.

  5. This is going waaay to far… what she did was wrong, but hasn’t she been punished enough by being publicly humiliated by her father and the world press??

  6. No, this doesn’t warrant arrest, IMO. Ultimately, it was the flight crew that made the decision to turnaround – they weren’t even in the air yet! She didn’t use violence or threats of violence to coerce the actions. The crew made a business decision to turn around. I have no problem with KA facing fines, and since she is out of the company, that problem is solved. These are both appropriate consequences of that business decision made by a really dumb executive on that plane. There is no need for charges.

  7. I think it’s only fair. To put in context, if this was any average person, that caused a flight to return to the gate, over a meltdown, they would of left the aircraft in handcuffs.

  8. Exactly who are they trying to get a message to? Just how many spoiled people who have no idea how to act appropriately when disciplining an employee are there? I’m not convinced that this does any good to anyone. If it were a legal problem with the plane turning around then shouldn’t the US prosecute her? There are too many holes in all this.

  9. Just how many spoiled people who have no idea how to act appropriately when disciplining an employee are there?

    In terms of nepotism within Korean chaebol? I hear the number is fairly high.

  10. “Does she deserve to be arrested, or are they just trying to make an example of her at this point?”

    Saving face, I suspect … in their minds, her actions (and even more so, the ensuing worldwide publicity) caused national embarrassment.

  11. As an American of Korean descent, I’ve been following this whole saga quite closely. In all the US-based news reports as well as blogs (even this one), there is one Asian cultural element that hasn’t been covered nor is widely recognized. As a general rule, in traditional Asian work places, subordinates really don’t have much contact with their bosses and when they do, it’s generally not for good reasons (punishment, berating, termination). As an example, we had a recent Chinese immigrant at one of our offices in my company. The boss came around and sat with her to discuss a project she was working on, What the boss didn’t realize for a recent Asian immigrant employee is for a subordinate to have their boss come and sit with them at their desk meant that they were going to be fired. So looking at it from the perspective of the KE purser, having a company executive (many echelons beyond his boss) come to him an berate him would be orders of magnitude scarier than for a western employee to have their boss berate them. It’s cultural. And for the flight crew, unless it was a western crew (and KE does have a few of those, I know as a friend is one of them), they probably had as much fear of the situation as the purser did and for the exact same reasons (and were under the same cultural obligation to comply with her nutty demands). As for whether or not the nutlady deserves prosecution, she was a passenger on the flight. End of story. She was not a member of the flight crew. Regardless of her affiliation with the company CEO, it doesn’t excuse her behavior nor her efforts to use her cultural power advantage over the purser and flight crew to disrupt the flight.

  12. Is arrest warranted? By the strict letter of the law, possibly. Contextually, not really. I *do* agree that this is to set an example, though. I’m not sure if it’s against the chaebol that permeate Korean culture, or if it’s the start of some middle-class revolution against the upper class. Maybe both? Unfortunately, Korean culture is slow to change, has a history rooted in familial dynasties and strict observance of hierarchies and class distinction. Plus, given how far the chaebol reach in society, and how many chaebol there are in general, I don’t think this will do much more than disgrace Ms. Cho and waste manpower on the subsequent investigation and potential trial.

  13. Not only should Ms. Cho be arrested for interference with a flight crew among other violations, she should be sentenced to 1000 hours of community service, I think doing a stint as FNG flight attendant in economy on long haul flights only, might do wonders.

  14. Ms. Cho should be given a national award for upholding proper First Class serving standards. I get very angry myself when my nuts are not properly handled.

  15. First, she should have been arrested and charged in the United States where the incident occurred. Second, the event is alarming in that she wielded her power upon an obviously weakling captain. Imagine her onboard an aircraft and the aircraft is delayed from landing due to fog/visibility or whatever, but the irritated princess demands the captain land anyway. Get the picture? Catastrophe. In the late 1990s Korean Air was losing quite a few planes, they brought in European and U.S. consultants. The findings were that strict hierarchy culture was inteferring with pilot and co-pilot communication and safe operations. The word to Korean Air was you’d better change or risk the airline going down the tubes. They fired a lot of former military pilots, redid their training and hired some western pilots. Still, this disturbing incident aboard an A380 rules out flying Korea Air. They’ve learnt nothing. Kudos to the average Koreans who are sick and tired of these spoilt chaebol types who are nothing but oligarchs ruling the serfs.

  16. @steve & @Sice – The laws in South Korea and the US are probably different for this sort of thing (and for a lot of other things, too). Just because something is legal/illegal in one country does not mean the same holds true in the other. If this bats*** crazy woman’s actions were illegal under US law (and if the US wanted to go through the hassle of trying to get her extradited), they’d probably do something (I don’t know what, though).

  17. “Ms. Cho should be given a national award for upholding proper First Class serving standards. I get very angry myself when my nuts are not properly handled.”

    Maybe if your nuts were handled more often, you would to be so angry?

  18. I agree that It was a mistake on her part on how she reacted. Her actions and behavior were not justified, and possibly risked the safety of the passengers for taxiing back to the gate, but she should not be treated as a criminal. I believe the prosecutors in Korea are making this a bigger deal than it really is. I believe the prosecutors have more important fish to fry.

  19. @Ed – “but she should not be treated as a criminal.”

    Well, if her actions were against South Korean law, she technically IS a criminal.

  20. Clearly she should be arrested. This wasnt a restaurant where she raised a fuss about how she was served. It is a mode of public transportation where 100’s of lives depend on the actions of the captain and the crew.

    She has zero authority in how this craft is flown, and her actions could have led to a flight incident. Im sure the pilots were fearful of losing their jobs because of her “status”. That should never, ever, be their consideration.

    Throw the book at her.

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *