In a case that sparked public outrage and ridicule over her
treatment of flight crew, Heather Cho, the daughter of the airline's
chairman and head of in-flight service, reprimanded the cabin crew
chief and one of his flight attendants who brought nuts to her in a
bag, not a dish.
"In a situation where she said "Make contacts right now to stop the
plane. I won't let the plane go", I dared not object to her, the
owner's daughter," Park Chang-jin, the chief steward, told state-run
TV network KBS late on Friday, ending days of silence.
The pilot brought the plane back to its gate at New York's John F.
Kennedy International Airport for the cabin crew chief to be
expelled. The flight arrived in Incheon, near Seoul, 11 minutes
Cho is the eldest daughter of the company chairman Cho Yang-ho. Two
siblings are also executives at the airline.
Park said that Cho swore at him, jabbed the back of his hand with a
file case several times, and pointed her finger at him while he
The incident that was first reported on Monday has stoked both mirth
and anger in South Korea, whose economy is dominated by powerful
family-run conglomerates known as chaebol.
Cho has been stripped of all titles at the airline and its
affiliates, and faces investigation by the government and
prosecutors to determine whether she breached aviation laws.
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Cho bowed and offered a public apology before being questioned by
the transport ministry in Seoul on Friday. Speaking to reporters
hours after being questioned, Cho declined to respond to the cabin
crew chief's account of the incident.
"I have no idea... I have never heard of it," Cho told reporters,
slightly shaking her head.
The chief steward said that, after the incident was first reported,
he was visited several times at home by the airline's officials, who
tried to persuade him to lie to authorities by saying that Cho had
not sworn and that he had left the plane voluntarily.
Korean Air Lines declined to comment.
(Reporting by Ju-min Park; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)
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