Korean Air Flight Attendant Suing Over Nut-Rage Incident

Filed Under: Korean Air, Media

I’ve written extensively about the Korean Air nut rage incident, which happened last December on a Korean Air A380 flight from New York JFK to Seoul Incheon. During this incident, a Korean Air executive demanded the plane be turned around because she wasn’t pleased with the way she was served macadamia nuts.


For those of you not familiar with the saga, see my previous posts on the subject:

Our last update came roughly a month ago, whereby Heather Cho was sentenced to one year in prison. I assumed at that point the story was over and we could move on. But it’s not. And we can’t.

That’s because Kim Do-hee, the flight attendant serving Heather Cho, is now seeking compensation for “damage to her career, reputation and emotional wellbeing.”

Via BBC:

Ms Kim’s civil lawsuit, filed in New York City, is seeking compensation for damage to her career, reputation and emotional wellbeing.

It alleges that Cho screamed obscenities and hit Ms Kim after being served the nuts in their bag not a bowl.

Ms Kim’s lawyers said that “the evidence in this case will demonstrate that Cho’s actions were not only humiliating, degrading, and damaging to Kim, but were also emblematic of Cho’s unbridled arrogance and disturbing sense of entitlement”.

The summons also stated she was pressured to lie to government investigators to cover up the incident and to appear in public with Cho “as part of an orchestrated effort to try and rehabilitate Cho’s public image”, reported AP.

There are a few things that are especially interesting here:

  • This lawsuit is being filed in the US and not South Korea. While the “incident” happened in the US, it was on a Korean plane, and it was ultimately Korean aviation law which got Heather Cho her jail time.
  • The most “damaged” flight attendant isn’t the one suing. You’d think the purser would have been most humiliated, having been physically assaulted by her and removed from the flight. But instead it’s the flight attendant that didn’t initially serve her nuts correctly that’s suing.
  • I wonder whether the flight attendant suing is still working for Korean Air. I’d imagine not, but I guess I could be wrong.

Bottom line

We’re used to seeing these kinds of lawsuits in the US, though as far as I know they’re a bit rarer in Korea. So I think it’s no coincidence that this suit was filed in the US and not Korea.

What do you think — is the flight attendant simply trying to take advantage of the US legal system, does she have a legitimate case for wanting compensation, or both?

  1. If she was pressured by KE to lie to South Korean government investigators, then hell yes, she has a legitimate case. Hope she nails KE.

  2. I’m telling you: there is no reason Koreans should be any less litigious than Americans. Based on my experience, Koreans actually show very little inhibition when they know there’s something to be gained.

    Like myriad other stereotypes, the myth of “Asian obedience” is mostly just appearance. Lift that thin veil, and you will see how people from all cultures share more or less the same instincts, emotions, ambitions, vices, and so on.

  3. If you are familiar with Korea’s culture, then it wouldn’t be that difficult to understand why she file in US instead of South Korea.

    She might didn’t do her job probably, but doesn’t mean she should be insulted, KE can just fire her.

  4. At least, the FA tried to settle the matter with the airline first before filing a suit:

    “They said the airline had not responded to Ms Kim’s attempt to settle her claim privately.”

  5. Korean media report it has to do with the fact that US court tend to award bigger sums of – exponentially bogger – compensation. Many Koreans drool over the generosity of US court and wish they have any excuses to sue at US courts for large compensation. If the court grants compensation, thousands of FAs of US & other intl carriers will follow the suit the same in US. For passengers yelling, making a scene onboard in the past. This will bring in billions of more court cases.

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