A South Korean court Friday suspended the prison term of the former Korean Air executive whose onboard “nut rage” tantrum delayed a flight last year, immediately ending her incarceration.
Cho Hyun-ah, who is the daughter of the Korean airline’s chairman, did not violate aviation security law when she ordered the chief flight attendant off a Dec. 5 flight, forcing it to return to the gate at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York, according to the Seoul High Court.
The upper court sentenced Cho to 10 months in prison and then suspended the sentence for two years. It said she was guilty of assault. A lower court had earlier sentenced Cho to a year in prison. She has been locked up since her December arrest.
She achieved worldwide notoriety after an onboard tantrum triggered when a first class flight attendant served her macadamia nuts in a bag instead of on a dish. Cho, head of the airline’s cabin service at the time, had a heated, physical confrontation with members of the crew.
Swarmed by reporters at the court, she made no comment in front of the TV cameras, bowing her head and burying her face in her hands as the media pressed in and yelled for her to say something.
The incident was a lightning rod for anger in a country where the economy is dominated by family-run conglomerates known as chaebol that often act above the law.
Kim Sang-hwan, head of the three judge upper court panel, said that even though Cho used violence against crew members, she should be given a second chance. The judge also cited her “internal change” since she began serving her prison term as a reason for lessening the sentence.
The upper court also took into consideration that Cho is the mother of 2-year-old twins and had never committed any offence before. She has resigned from her position at the airline.
And it seems that chaebol justice has prevailed yet again! Not only was her sentence reduced to 10 months, and then suspended for teo years, they cite that people using violence against others is OK, and should be given a second chance.
In Korea, as in Japan, the class system is alive and well. This judgement has shown once again that the upper classes, the chaebol, can do whatever they like and skirt around the judicial system with impugnity.
Had a lesser person carried out these acts, I’m sure they would be languishing in a U.S. Federal Prison for an undetermined period.