Korean Air Heiresses, One Known for ‘Nut Rage,’ Lose Their Jobs

This month, the police began investigating accusations of physical abuse against her younger sister, Cho Hyun-min, a Korean Air marketing executive. She was accused of insulting an advertising executive and hurling water in his face during a business meeting.


Cho Hyun-min, executive Director of Korean Air, at a news briefing in Incheon, South Korea, last year. She was accused of throwing water in the face of an advertising executive during a business meeting.


Ms. Cho said she had thrown the water on the floor, not at the official’s face, but nevertheless apologized for what she called foolish and reckless behavior.

But the family’s trouble did not end there.

The local news website OhmyNews released what it described as an audio recording of her screaming at Korean Air officials. Korean Air whistle-blowers have also accused the Cho family of illegally bringing in luxury items from abroad, disguising them as company goods to avoid tariffs and to save transport expenses.

The police and customs investigators raided the offices and homes of the Cho family this month to collect evidence.

The family has become so vilified among South Koreans that people have petitioned to the office of President Moon Jae-in to ban Korean Air from using “Korean” in its name.

Mr. Cho, the company chairman, apologized in a statement on Sunday: “I am deeply sorry that problems connected to my family have worried the people and employees of Korean Air,” he said. “As chairman of Korean Air and as the head of my family, I feel crushed by the immature behavior of my daughters.”

He said they would be immediately removed from management. Mr. Cho also said he would introduce professional managers to top company posts. His son, Cho Won-tae, remained as president of Korean Air.

South Korea’s wealthy families have developed reputations over the years for running their corporate empires like fiefs. The families have also become entangled in several corruption scandals and feuds. But the chaebol continue to endure, critics say, because they are crucial to the country’s economy.

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