The head of South Korea’s 2018 Winter Olympics organizing committee, Cho Yang-ho, has resigned.
Cho Yang-ho said he wanted to focus on “urgent matters” with his business group, which includes the struggling Hanjin Shipping carrier, the Yonhap news agency reports.
Hanjin Shipping, South Korea’s largest shipper by assets, is facing severe financial difficulties and Cho Yang-ho needed to focus his efforts on restructuring and stabilizing the company.
Photo LA Times
Cho Yang-ho is the chairman of the Hanjin conglomerate, which also controls the nation’s flag carrier Korean Air, a corporate sponsor of the 2018 Games.
According to reports, Cho Yang-ho, who took on the role in 2014, was nearing the end of his two-year term.
The Winter Games are due to take place in Pyeongchang in February 2018.
In March, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said it was confident South Korea’s preparations were “moving in the right direction”.
Cho Yang-ho said he had “truly put forward my very best efforts to work with every member of the organizing committee to prepare a successful Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in 2018.”
He said he would “continue to support Pyeongchang through to the Games in 2018”.
In April, Hanjin Shipping said it would ask creditor banks to restructure its debt. It had debt of 5.6 trillion won ($4.92 billion) and a debt-to-equity ratio of nearly 850 percent as at the end of 2015, according to the company.
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.
Cho Hyun-ah has denied forcing the flight attendant and the cabin crew chief to kneel and beg forgiveness while she shouted abuse.
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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Former Korean Air Vice President Heather Cho has apologized for delaying a company’s aircraft over a serving of nuts, in her first public appearance since the incident.
Heather Cho’s father, Korean Air chairman Cho Yang-ho, also apologized at a news conference, amid a simmering backlash in South Korea.
Cho Yang-ho said his daughter, who has resigned from the airline, would be stripped of roles in affiliated companies.
The South Korean government is probing the incident, which has dominated headlines.
Heather Cho, also known as Cho Hyun-ah was onboard a Korean Airlines plane departing from New York for Incheon last week when she demanded a crew member to be removed, after she was served nuts in a bag, instead of on a plate.
Korean Air initially defended Heather Cho’s behavior, noting that as vice-president overseeing flight service, she was responsible for making sure service standards were upheld. The airliner later apologized.
On December 12, Heather Cho bowed in apology when she spoke to reporters outside a government building, where she was due to meet transport officials.
“I sincerely apologize,” she said, adding that she planned to say sorry personally to affected crew members.
Hours earlier Cho Yang-ho called a press conference and said he was apologizing “as a father and head of Korean Air”.
Cho Yang-ho called his daughter’s conduct “foolish”, and added: “I beg the people to blame me for the current situation, because everything is my fault… I failed to properly educate my daughter.”
He also announced that his daughter would step down from all her posts in companies under the Cho family-owned Hanjin Group, which also owns Korean Air.
Heather Cho was the chief executive of KAL Hotel Network, Wangsan Leisure Development, and Hanjin Travel Service, and also a board director of Korean Air, according to Yonhap news agency.
The Hanjin Group is one of South Korea’s top family conglomerates, called chaebol.
Some South Koreans resent the chaebols for dominating the economy. Some of the families running these businesses have been accused of acting with impunity, and running companies with a lack of transparency or poor corporate governance.
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