Ex-Korean Air Executive Freed from Jail Following “Nut Rage” Incident
Heather Cho, the former vice president of Korean Air and the daughter of the president of the airline, was released from jail on May 22.
She was arrested in December after she erupted in rage when a first-class flight attendant on a Korean Air plane, preparing to take off from New York City, served her macadamia nuts that she did not request. The flight attendant also presented them to her in a sealed bag instead of a bowl. According to reports, she forced one of the attendants to kneel in front of her, and prodded another with a service manual. She then demanded that the taxiing plane return to the gate so that the head flight attendant could be kicked off, for which she was originally charged with breaching plane safety.
Back in February, she was given a sentence of one year in prison, but her sentence was reduced to ten months by an appeals court on May 22. Her sentence has also been suspended for two years, which means that she has been freed from jail and she will not return to prison if she does not commit another crime in the next two years.
This ruling came about because while the appeals court maintained the charges of assault, they ruled that she had not diverted the plane’s flight path and therefore there was no violation of plane safety. In addition, they took into consideration the fact that Heather Cho has repented for her actions and is the mother of young twins.
On May 22, she bowed deeply before the press as she left the courthouse, but did not make a statement. Although the incident became a subject of much derision around the world, in South Korea it has also sparked outrage over the behavior of members of rich, powerful, and nepotistic families who own large corporations such as Korean Air.