Korean Air chairman and CEO Cho Yang-ho has told a court he scolded his 40-year-old daughter, known as Heather Cho, for ejecting an air steward in a now infamous “nut rage” incident.
Both father and daughter apologized to the court for the incident, which erupted when Cho Hyun-ah was served nuts in a packet rather than on a plate.
Cho Hyun-ah, aka Heather Cho, appeared in green prison overalls, her hair falling over her face and speaking in a whisper.
She could face 10 years in jail.
In court, the attendant who mis-served the nuts said she was pushed by Cho Hyun-ah, a push now alleged to amount to a criminal assault.
Heather Cho is also accused of interfering with the execution of duty and coercing employees to give false testimony.
The case has sparked a storm in South Korea, highlighting nepotism within the country’s mighty conglomerates, or “chaebol”, and the perceived arrogance of the offspring of chaebol chiefs.
Cho Hyun-ah and her siblings have all served as executives with Korean Air.
“It was wrong to get a crew member off the flight no matter what the reason,” Cho Yang-ho told the court, during his first appearance in the witness box, according to Reuters news agency.
“I have scolded her for not controlling her emotions and [for] expelling the crew member,” he said as his daughter appeared to wipe away tears.
Cho Yang-ho apologized to the crew chief whom Cho Hyun-ah forced to leave the flight, and promised he would face no reprisals if he chose to stay in his job.
Cho Hyun-ah ordered the plane to return to the gate while it was taxiing to the runway in New York on December 5 to eject the crew chief, causing an 11-minute delay to its arrival in South Korea.
The female flight attendant who served the nuts also gave testimony on January 30, saying she was pushed and had a service manual thrown at her by Heather Cho during the incident.
She said she was subsequently pressured to accept an apology from Cho Hyun-ah in exchange for a job as a professor, but did not accept.
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