Records reveal Cho did know plane was moving

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Records reveal Cho did know plane was moving

Korean Air Lines heiress Cho Hyun-ah appears to have lied to prosecutors when she claimed that she didn’t know the airplane where she threw her in-flight tantrum on last month had already started down the runway.

According to prosecution records obtained by local media Friday, Cho, 40, had been informed that the airplane had already begun to depart when she ordered it to return to the gates at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.

The oldest daughter of the chairman and CEO of Hanjin Group, which owns Korean Air, flew into a rage on Dec. 5 on a plane bound for Incheon when a flight attendant failed to present the macadamia nuts in first class to her liking.

After berating the head of the cabin crew, Park Chang-jin, Cho demanded the plane be halted. “Halt this airplane immediately. I will not allow this plane to take off. Contact the pilot to stop the plane immediately,” the prosecution’s arrest records quote her as saying.

Park then confirmed that the plane “had already entered the runway” and that it could not be stopped.

Cho, who stepped down as vice president of Korean Air following the upheaval, previously told the prosecution that she had not been aware that the plane had begun to move.

Prosecutors had previously obtained footage from the JFK airport showing that the plane had clearly started moving.

It had moved about 20 meters (65 feet) within 22 seconds.

Nonetheless, Cho ordered the plane to return to the gate to kick out the head of the cabin crew. Park later claimed that he and the female flight attendant had been physically assaulted, forced on their knees and humiliated by Cho.

The 247 passengers aboard KE086 were delayed on the runway for 11 minutes without any sort of explanation broadcast by cabin staff.

The prosecution’s records also reveal that she had used expletives when addressing the flight attendant.

Cho was said to have gotten up from her seat, dragged the junior female flight attendant to the plane’s doors and hit the wall with a rolled-up manual, telling her to “get off.”

When Park defended the flight attendant, saying that she had followed the “welcome drink” service method, Cho skimmed through the manual herself. When she found that the stewardess had followed proper procedures, she then shifted her attack on him, blaming Park for “not explaining things properly ... and making me scold that female flight attendant.”

She then told Park to take responsibility and get off the plane instead.

Cho is accused of charges including violating the Aviation Safety Law, physical assault, coercion and obstruction of justice for intervening with the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport’s investigation into the case.

BY SARAH KIM [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]


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