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 (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 ended up not happening. Instead her sister has many of her roles, and her sister texted to assure her that she would be “avenged.”
The other side of this story that wasn’t talked about much at the time was how this incident impacted 47 year old Park Chang Jin, who was the chief flight attendant on the “nut rage” flight (he wasn’t even the one to allegedly serve her the nuts incorrectly).
He’s still working at Korean Air, but went from being a chief flight attendant to just being a regular economy flight attendant.
Earlier this year he had an interview about the situation he’s in, describing a hostile work environment that he believes is designed to force him to resign. Rumors spread about him, his superiors belittled him and asked why he isn’t married and why he returned to work, etc.
He took 18 months of sick leave to seek hospital treatment, and is now on anti-depressants.
Anyway, earlier this year Park said he was suing Cho and Korean Air, alleging they demoted him illegally and have led to him being ostracized at work. Park said at the time he didn’t expect to win, but rather was doing it to make a point.
This case is now over, so what happened? Korean Air has been ordered to pay ~18,000 USD by a court in Seoul for his treatment on that flight four years ago. This amount was significantly less than Park demanded, though, and the court backed Korean Air’s decision to demote him from a chief flight attendant to an economy flight attendant.
So the fact that he got ~18,000 USD is better than nothing, though hardly makes up for what he has been through…