Airline ′nut rage′ draws apology in South Korea | News | DW | 12.12.2014
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Airline 'nut rage' draws apology in South Korea

The Korean Air Lines executive, who delayed a flight's departure because she was angry about nuts being served in a bag, has apologized. Cho Hyun-ah has resigned her position amid public outrage over her behavior.

Korean Air Lines executive Cho, who delayed a flight departure from New York last Friday in an incident dubbed "nut rage," bowed deep in apology on Friday before being questioned by South Korean transport officials.

"I sincerely apologize. I'm sorry," Cho said before droves of journalists in an almost trembling voice. She said she will meet the service crew member she admonished and would "apologize sincerely."

Her apology came in response to public anger in South Korea about the incident. Korean media labeled her as a “princess”. Cho is a daughter of the airline's chairman.

Unrequested nuts being served in a paper bag and not on a plate

Cho Hyun-ah, also known as Heather Cho, who had been head of cabin service at Korea Air until resigning on Tuesday, had responded angerily last Friday when a flight attendant in first class offered her unrequested macadamia nuts in a bag, and not on a plate.

She then questioned the chief flight attendant over in-flight service standards and ordered him off the plane. Cho forced the flight to taxi back to the gate at the New York's JFK airport.

As a result, the flight with 250 passengers on board was delayed by 11 minutes.

Transport Ministry officials had summoned Cho for questioning over the possibility that her actions might have violated aviation safety law.

Althrough she resigned as Korea Air's head of cabin service on Tuesday she retained other executive roles at the airline and with its affiliated companies.

Hours before her apology, Korean Air Chairman Cho Yang-ho also made deep bow before journalists.

He called his daughter's behavior foolish and said he regreted that he had not taught her better manners. "It's my fault," he said. "As chairman and father, I ask for the public's generous forgiveness."

Privileged families and the unfair society

On Tuesday, the Dong-A Ilbo newspaper published an editorial that said the daughter's actions revealed a sense of privilege and arrogance among tycoon families.

A recent survey by the Segye Times and the Asian Institute for Policy Studies found that 92 percent of young South Koreans think their society is unfair, and that nepotism will ruin their society.

Cho holds a bachelor's degree from Cornell University in New York state and an MBA from the University of Southern California.

She is the eldest daughter of Korean Air Chairman Cho Yang-ho, making her an important figure in the family business that runs South Korea's national carrier.

ra/ipj (AP, AFP)