Korean Air Heiress Pleads for Leniency in ‘Nut Rage’ Appeal

by REERA YOO | @reeraboo

Heather Cho, the eldest daughter of Korean Air’s chairman, asked an appeal court on Wednesday to overturn her conviction for disrupting a flight in an angry outburst over cabin service.

Cho, the former vice president of Korean Air, was sentenced to one year in prison over an in-flight incident at New York’s John F. Kennedy airport. After she became angered by how she was served macadamia nuts, the executive forced a taxiing plane to return to its departure gate in order to eject the cabin crew chief off the plane, according to Reuters.

In February, a lower court found Cho guilty on multiple charges: forcing flight route deviation, obstructing aviation safety and assaulting two cabin crewmembers physically and verbally.

The incident sparked widespread ridicule and public anger towards chaebols, families that run South Korea’s largest conglomerates. Many critics questioned whether or not chaebol families had excessive influence on running the country.

In the first session of Cho’s appeal hearing on Wednesday, the heiress’ attorney sought to reduce her sentence by asserting that the plane’s movement of 20 meters on land is not enough for it to be considered to be in flight.

“Let me take this chance to ask the victims for forgiveness … I am repenting for what I have done. I am asking for leniency,” Cho said, wearing an olive-green prison uniform at her appeal hearing, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Prosecutors also appealed Cho’s earlier acquittal of obstructing the government investigation into the “nut rage” incident. They argued that her sentence was too light and was skeptical of whether Cho was sincere in her apology.

Meanwhile, the flight attendant who served the now famous macadamia nuts has separately filed a civil lawsuit in New York for compensation against Cho and Korean Air.


Featured image via Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji