Korean Air exec treated flight crew 'like slaves'
THE daughter of Korean Air's boss, on trial in a case popularly known as "nut rage", treated flight crew members like "feudal slaves", a chief steward said in court yesterday.
Heather Cho, daughter of Korean Air chairman Cho Yang Ho and the former head of in-flight service, is on trial for allegedly breaking aviation laws and conspiring with other company executives to force crew members to lie about the Dec 5 incident.
Cho had demanded that the chief steward, Park Chang Jin, be removed from a flight at New York's John F. Kennedy airport, after a first-class flight attendant served her macadamia nuts in a bag, not on a dish.
The plane, already taxiing towards the runway, returned to the gate.
Mr Park said Cho "was like a beast that found its prey gritting its teeth as she became abusive, not listening to what I had to say at all".
"I don't think Cho showed an ounce of conscience, treating powerless people like myself like feudal slaves, forcing us to sacrifice and treating it as if it was the natural thing to do," Mr Park said, fighting back tears.
Cho resigned from her posts at the airline, including that of vice-president, in the face of public anger and ridicule over her behaviour, which raised questions about the power of the country's "chaebol" conglomerates.
Mr Park appeared in court in his uniform, after returning to work over the weekend, after a leave of absence.
Mr Cho apologised in court on Friday to Mr Park and promised he would not face any reprimand.
Cho's lawyers previously told the court she was sorry for her actions, but that they did not merit punishment. They also denied that she had used violence.
Mr Park and prosecutors have said he was forced to kneel down, and that Cho had poked his palm several times with a folder.
Heather Cho is the oldest of Mr Cho's three children. Her siblings are also executives with the airline.