A South Korean court on Thursday sentenced the eldest daughter of Korean Air’s chairman, and granddaughter of its founder, to one year in prison after finding her guilty of violating aviation law. Yikes.
Hyun-ah Cho, also known as Heather Cho, achieved worldwide notoriety after she ordered the chief flight attendant off a December 5th flight, forcing it to return to the gate at John F. Kennedy airport in New York. She was LIVID that she had been offered macadamia nuts in a bag instead of on a dish and unleashed a wrath of fury on the unsuspecting stewardess and crew. The case, dubbed “nut rage,” caused an uproar in South Korea, a country where the economy is dominated by family-run conglomerates known as chaebol that often act above the law. (You know those Korean dramas where the really rich sons and daughters of empire companies arrogantly do whatever they want with zero consequences? Those characters are based off of real people like Heather Cho.) The former vice-president and head of in-flight services, who had been credited with forging a new corporate identity for Korean Air, which included newly-designed uniforms (I love the new uniforms!), cabin interiors, as well as improvements to in-flight services, quickly resigned from her positions at the airline and subsidiaries following the incident.
The court said Cho was guilty of forcing a flight to change its route, the most serious of the charges she faced. In reading the sentence, Judge Seung-woo Oh said Cho knew the plane was moving when she ordered it to return shortly after leaving the gate. The court also found Cho guilty of obstructing the flight’s captain in the performance of his duties, forcing the senior crew member off the plane and assaulting another crew member who served her the nuts. It found her not guilty of interfering with a transport ministry investigation into the incident.
“This is a case where human dignity was trampled upon,” Judge Oh stated.
It's both fascinating and tragic to see how quickly someone's life can change. I'm pretty sure when she was settling into her first class, fully reclining, $15,000 plus seat in December, she couldn't have fathomed in her wildest imagination she would be sitting in a prison cell a little over two months later. Kindness. It doesn't cost a damn thing. Sprinkle that shit everywhere.