Terrible: Korean Air “Nut Rage” Executive Makes A Return To Her Father’s Company

Filed Under: Korean Air

In 2014, an incident that occurred on a Korean Air flight from New York JFK to Seoul Incheon went viral. In this incident, a Korean Air executive, Heather Cho (also the daughter of the company’s chairman), went nuts after a flight attendant dared to serve her nuts in a bag rather than in a ramekin. She demanded that the flight attendants get on their knees to apologize, that the plane be turned around, and that the flight attendant who served her incorrectly be offloaded.

Part of the reason this story went viral is because of the tension between big corporations led by the country’s “ruling” families, and everyone else. This was the perfect example of the abuse of power that seems to be all too common in Korea. The Korean Air executive ended up being sentenced to one year in jail for obstructing aviation safety, though she was released after just three months.

At the time there were rumors that she’d make a return to the company, though that didn’t initially happen. Instead her sister has many of her roles, and her sister texted to assure her that she would be “avenged.”

With the Olympics having recently been in Korea, Heather Cho once again made headlines. She was seen alongside her sister and father carrying the Olympic torch for all to see. You’d think she’d stay out of the spotlight, but I guess she can’t really understand how disliked she is. Around the same time a story came out about the person she abused, and how much his life has changed (for the worse) since the incident, including the nullying he has put up with at work.

Unfortunately it looks like this vile human being has now made a return to her father’s company. Specifically, the BBC reports that Heather Cho has returned to work for the family business, and has taken control of four hotels operated by the KAL Hotel Network. KAL doesn’t just operate an airline, but also several other businesses, including hotels (the new InterContinental Los Angeles is owned by them, for example). Personally I find it despicable that she’s working for the company again, and will likely abuse people in the same way.

I wish I could say I was surprised, but…

(Tip of the hat to @MKcol)

  1. remember a few years back you begged the internet to buy you an Etihad A380 ticket on the basis of “doing it for the readers”? i don’t judge your entire character based on that one instance of classless behavior. perhaps you should extend that courtesy to others. if she’s truly been rehabilitated, maybe she deserves a second chance.

  2. You’d think she’d stay out of the spotlight, but I guess she can’t really understand how disliked she is.

    @Lucky, you are wrong. She clearly knows, she just doesn’t care. Korea do have democratic election except in order to win it, you need big companies on your back. The entire country is controlled by a few elite families. So, if you are in one of those families, you can pretty much do whatever you want in that country.

  3. Vile human being? Hehe. You can’t be a liberal if you use words like that.

    Death to all illegal immigrants. Yes the person is illegal and a criminal, not the act.

  4. The quality of mercy is not strained.
    It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
    Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
    It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.

  5. “Personally I find it despicable that she’s working for the company again, and will likely abuse people in the same way.”

    What i find equally despicable is when one sits and smugly pointing fingers at others and issuing judgement based on future predictions of a crime that *will most certainly* be committed.

    Have you reached a point of perfection that you no longer need to judge yourself but rather judge what is despicable in others?

    A blog that is primarily centered on giving us the latest travel news has oddly became one that just judges people and airlines in a way that is superficial and really unnecessary.

  6. Okay boys and girls..here we go again…let us stay at the topic pls! What has the ill behaviour of the nutrage lady has to do do with illegal immigrants?? Yeah, nothing! So moving on.. strong words Ben, be careful..others will read you to filth when you forget to write diplomatically. Yes, Lady Nutrage was only 3 months instead of 1 year. Was it right? My personal opinion, definitely NO! Inspite of all the PR damage she caused, her family’s company still flourishing. She is borned privileged and will never know and experience how terrible the life of the poor FA she bullied. The only thing she feels is the shame she has to endure. For us mortals in nowhere near any Chaebol relations and living in the Korean society, we will probably not understand how she got out so early and be given a good job position back as if nothing has happened..two words..money and power..combined with a deep rooted sense of honouring your superiors at all costs. So if you do not like her or want to show your stand…just do not support her company…do not fly with KE or buy items which they sell..at least your being honest to your self, right!

  7. Whenever Ben writes topically-relevant criticisms about notable figures in the airline industry, rest assured the hired shills of those people will always comment. Happened yesterday, happened today.

  8. You guys act so surprised at the judginess in these posts. You know that’s just how gays are, right? Born this way.

  9. They should bring her back at Korean Air, not just the hotels. Last time I flew them, the nuts were served packed in a plastic bag. Absolutely unacceptable, seems like the stewardesses didn’t learn anything from the incident.

  10. @MaxMuilero..just heard from KE..pretty sorry for you…they ran out of bowls…Ladynutrage has ordered to discontinue them…as the heiress of the owning company ..she wants to show egalitarianism…no bowls for all !!!

  11. Kim
    I agree with u 100% we should take our bad trade deals with the south and our troops and guns and planes and Go Home .
    Nothing in SK but a waste of money and 50k US dead for no gain but dedt


  12. Haha wow the bitterness that comes out when Ben makes a simple criticism is unreal.

    He’s right she’s an appalling woman and it’s a travesty that she’s back at work, and she clearly won’t be “rehabilitated”. But then who is gonna stop her, realistically, in Korea? That’s really the point, and the reason people were so upset in the first place of course.

  13. Besides that, there are actually hotels in South Korea that literally are called Korean Airline Hotels. They have four star rankings. Actually, they are just all right. Nothing to write home about.

    @Kim when Korean Air stops flying to the US and when Hanjin Group stops doing businesses with or through the US or with Americans we can talk about then. If so, Americans have the right to voice their opinions and concerns.

    Yet, as @Myles said, we can stop flying with KE. Stop giving them our money to feed the ego of these monsters. The sad news is that she will be heir to the throne. After her father, she will control the Hanjin group. By the way, her father also spent seven months in jail in the ‘90s for embezzlement and tax evasion. Not rich enough or that is how they got even richer?

  14. Lucky, I am on your side. I am a normal person, a normal father and a normal employee. Because of it, I wish everyone (include me) can be treated equal under rules and laws, no matter how they are rich and empowered.

  15. @ HT — There’s a difference between someone making mistakes (which we all do), and someone being both physically and emotionally abusive towards employees and (rightfully) causing horrible PR for a company owned by her dad. It’s one thing if she apologized and that were the end of it, but lets keep in mind that there’s proof that she and her sister had been texting about how she’ll be “avenged.” Does that sound like someone who is remorseful and who takes responsibility for their actions? It seems pretty clear to me that she thinks she did nothing wrong. There are mistakes, and then there’s horrible abuse of power that makes someone unfit to perform a job. This falls in the latter category, in my opinion.

  16. Let’s forget about her nationality – her personality will be hard to change. She is a privileged brat and unless she underwent a proper therapy in order to understand people (which I über highly doubt), nothing will change.

  17. Well, she did spend three months in jail for that. Regardless how well of you are, or how your society is, three months in jail are 90 days in the can. If she would be member of a powerful family here, she would not be a day in prison for that.

  18. Why not all boycott Korean Air for three months, that should perhaps send management a message they will understand?

  19. @Raymond
    It is ups to everyone’s individual choice and conviction regarding this matter to make a stand or difference. I for one try not to fly KE or stay in one of their hotels(Asiana is not bad either,)…it is just one stand of mine…but as you said…others who thinks the same might follow the example and send a powerful message that what is happening right now ,is wrong!!

  20. Umm so his personal “opinion” that a person is vile is equally as despicable as the person who actively made other people’s lives worse?? Yeah no.

    The super wealthy lives on a different plane of existence.

  21. Speaking as someone from South Korea – I would like to fill in some details that is missing here:

    Heather Cho (or the Cho family for that matter) was quite infamous for being violent – and that “nut rage” was not an isolated mistake. She was already quite notorious for using violence against Korean Air employees for some time even before nut rage.

    The only reason she was caught this time (“nut rage”) is that
    1. it happened outside of South Korea,
    2. the plane made a ramp return, which was too much of an incident to hide

    She had to step down from the job after that incident, but she apparently haven’t changed at all – evident by the fact that the whole Korean Air is making an organized bullying of the flight attendant who accused her of that violence. Also note that her sister (also quite notorious for violence), publicly vowed revenge against the flight attendant for letting the public know of her violence.

    Looks like the employees of Korean Air will now have one more person’s worth of violence to cope with for quite a long time.

  22. @Max Muilero
    It is official KE policy (but probably not “Heather Cho” KE policy since she turned violent at the fact that nuts were served unopened…) to serve all kinds of nuts unopened, lest someone sitting next to you suffer from nut allergies.

  23. It’s not only in Korea; this kind of behaviour is so typical of ruling elites in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia as well.
    Tommy Suharto used Sempati as a personal cash-cow; refused to pay the fuel bill and eventually it went under ( losing others a great deal of money); in fact the extended Suharto family owns much of the aviation infrastructure, including the CKG tollway.
    We see in Thailand the red bull heir who killed a policemen while driving his Lambo, then fled the scene and tried to blame it on a servant, still flying around the world in his private jet, cocking a snoot at those trying to bring him to justice…5 years after the event.
    It’s a common theme in the kleptocracies.

  24. Wow, You literally copied and pasted all about two paragraphs in this entire post from your previous one about this incident

  25. Self Entitled B….. She should travel on a U.S. Airline, and see how US Crews would react to her demands. Ten Years in Jail to boot, how dare she ask for nuts to be presented properly !!

  26. Lucky, The only thing i can say is that you do not understand Asia culture or Korea culture if you think this is a surprise.

  27. @jg
    Alright, no offence to you or others..so tell us why is it not a surprising thing??…with or without a well repectable understandind to traditions and your elders…a powerful heiress who raise above everyone regarding wealth, status etc..felt offended because of a simple mistake of not being served well or properly…and therefore chastised her employees as if their are what…animals?? In what ever society or century…this act of violence is WRONG! If she and her family think they are even being shamed by the outburst of public anger than it is only fair. They even want to avenged her?!..Well I would say it is about time to reconsider if some social attitudes in what ever part of Asia are definitely obsolete.

  28. @Myles
    Korean treated their superiors as father-like things. In Asia, father or mother can hit or spank children without consequences. so… if the “nuts” thing happened in Korean but not in US. There was no news. Your western countries always use your own standards to judge the culture of other non-western countries. Something may be horrible to you (especially, most of Lucky’s readers here are holding extreme liberal views) but it is OK in other non-western countries. Like in Indonesia, gay may be burned or throw stones to death without trial. Yes, It is horrible, but no surprise to me if I see the news.

  29. I am a US citizen who has currently been working and living here in South Korea for 9 years. I can tell you that life here in Korea is fairly messed up. Most people from the West (even those who live here) do not understand fully how most Koreans act and think. When it comes to work, you can ask just about anyone who works at a typical company here in Korea and they will tell you that they hate their job. Main reason being is because it is very stressful. They get just so so pay but work many hours, often having to work overtime and even weekends without any extra pay. The work hours here are 2nd highest among all OECD countries. Just as what has happened with the “nut rage” incident, there are many managers who verbally abuse their workers because they can. And with the culture here, most Koreans are too afraid to speak out because of the fear of getting fired even though everyone knows that the boss is in the wrong. I believe this is also one of the main reasons why Koreans are heavy smokers and the heaviest drinkers in the world…..because of all the stress. There’s a reason why many Korean people call Korea “Hell Joseon” (Hell Korea).
    This abuse of power trickles from the top. Ever since Korea became a democracy in the 1980s, along with recent scandal with former presidents Pak Geun Hye and Lee Myung Bak there has been a major scandal with every president who has been in office! The conglomerates with their CEOs and upper management with companies such as Samsung, CJ corp, POSCO Engineering, Lotte, and many more, the news is always the same……bribery, embezzlement, tax evasion, money laundering, slush funds, etc. Corruption is beyond rampant in this country and among the worst in the world out of developed/rich/educated nations.
    As a Korean American myself who is full blooded Korean, it is heart breaking and such an embarrassment. I hope our people can change for the better in the near future.

  30. @jg
    Thank you for the insight. You are right, even though we have
    Globalization…we can travel easily around the world..and often we forget or oversee that we are ALL still different within our different societies. Eventhough it is normal or
    tradition to chastisize your child or inferiors in Korea et., the act in this specific situation is still WRONG and does not justify it. Or your second example that it is mundane to see or hear about gays being stoned to death…it should not be seen as normal or played down…it is still a barbaric act in which people should do something against and not turn their back on…
    Back to the Nutrage…the main point here is, this lady does not show any remorse, not even symphathy towards the bullied employee but rather feels she has the right to be angry and offended as she is the superior person and therefore above any doubts as the Korean society gives her the right and moral grounds to do so. Well, I personally does not like it. It is still a wrongdoing on her side…as a superior person she should have the oversight and knowledge to know how to handle the situation peacefully without losing both their faces…it is only a bowl!…it is not a matter of life and death..
    And yes…such situations should always be a news to remember everyone especially those in power not to misuse their privileges or overreact !

  31. @ JYK
    Thanks for the insight. Only the Korean prople within the society can make a change. Outsiders can only give some opinions and hope to help them for the best.

  32. This is old news. She was actively involved in the construction of the Wilshire Grand tower and has had that role for years now – why are you suddenly writing about it now?

  33. You should review the new IC in Downtown LA. It has a pretty cool rooftop bar.

    On the other hand, Trump did stay there during his recent visit to California.

  34. People who supported the Nut lady doesn’t have morals at all. Typical conservatives chucks. Always abusing innocent people.

  35. @Josh Wright

    Oh yes, Morality is a bitch!..it depends on which end you stand for and how your society dictates the rules…do not get me wrong..it is a good indictator in our society..but the execution in certain situations are far too daring and abusive…striking the balance is the key to success.

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