Cho officially resigns as vice president of KAL

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Cho officially resigns as vice president of KAL

Cho Hyun-ah, or Heather Cho, gave up her title as vice president of Korean Air Lines on Wednesday after her public apology and resignation as head of cabin services at the airliner failed to satisfy the public’s fury over the now infamous macadamia nut spat.

Korean Air is the flagship company of Hanjin Group.

On Tuesday Cho, who is the eldest daughter of Hanjin Group Chairman Cho Yang-ho, announced that she was resigning to take full responsibility for the public outrage that she inadvertently caused.

Most understood this to mean that she was giving up her vice president status at KAL but keeping her executive titles at other affiliates.

However, it turned out that Cho only gave up her role as head of the cabin crew department while retaining her title as vice president of Korean Air and staying on as a “registered” executive.

A registered executive, unlike other executives, has a say in key management decisions at the company. Besides being Korean Air vice president, Cho is also the CEO of KAL Hotel Network and Hanjin Travel.

Her partial resignation further infuriated the public, and many people took to the Internet and social media, saying her decision was cheap and insincere.

Cho’s so-called resignation on Tuesday was considered a play on words and a deception typical of a chaebol family trying to maintain its power within the company.

Korean Air confirmed that this time, Cho was actually stepping down as vice president. However, it said whether she would remain a registered executive will be decided by shareholders at their next meeting.

The company said it had not decided yet whether Cho would be forced to resign from her executive posts at other affiliates.

Cho made global headlines on Monday after it was revealed that she forced a Korean Air flight from JFK International Airport in New York to Incheon on which she was a passenger to return the gate from the runway because she was displeased over the way she was served macadamia nuts. The vice president forced the cabin crew manager to get off the plane to take responsibility for the bad service.

Korean Air said that although it was true that Cho raised her voice, she did not make degrading remarks to the crew manager. The manager has not commented on the incident because he is on vacation.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport and the Seoul Regional Aviation Administration have started an investigation into whether Cho broke any laws by ordering the plane back to the gate.

The Land Ministry will announce its preliminary findings on Thursday and the final results will likely be released next week.

BY LEE HO-JEONG [ojlee82@joongang.co.kr]

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