Hanjin chairman opens up about his three kids

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Hanjin chairman opens up about his three kids

Hanjin Group Chairman Cho Yang-ho discussed the issue of whether his children will succeed him in business, including Cho Hyun-ah, the daughter who stepped down as vice president of the group’s affiliate Korean Air Lines (KAL) last December after a “nut rage” tantrum made her an international punching bag.

“I will not just leave companies to my son and daughters [because they’re my children],” said the 66-year-old Hanjin chief when he met Korean reporters in Paris on Tuesday, local time. “I will try to let the three develop expertise in the fields they are working in.”

Cho was visiting France to attend the International Paris Air Show 2015, and he signed a mega deal to buy 100 new airplanes from Boeing and Airbus for 13 trillion won ($12.2 billion) Tuesday, the biggest investment made by the company.

Cho has a son, Cho Won-tae, who is vice president of KAL, and two daughters, Cho Hyun-ah (also known as Heather Cho) and Cho Hyun-min, senior vice president of marketing and public relations for KAL’s budget airline, Jin Air.

Heather Cho stepped down from her KAL vice president post due to the nut rage incident.

In Paris, the Hanjin chairman tried to avoid talking about Heather, saying, “It isn’t the right time to speak about that issue [since I’m here to make an important deal].”

But later he made more comments. “As I said, I will not let my next generation have leadership of the group if they are not capable [of managing companies],” he said when reporters asked whether there will be any position changes for the three children.

Heather, the eldest daughter, was indicted for violating the country’s aviation security law, but the Seoul High Court set her free from jail with a suspended 10-month prison sentence.

Regarding the troublesome daughter, the chairman said, “She is going through many things that could make her shed tears and is having ‘cold rice’ [a Korean expression for someone facing hard times] to develop expertise in the field she really wants to work in.”

Analysts speculate the son will manage KAL and Hanjin Shipping, the core companies of Hanjin Group, while the disgraced daughter may be in charge of the hotel business and the youngest child, Cho Hyun-min, may stick with the low-cost carrier, Jin Air.

BY KWON SANG-SOO [kwon.sangsoo@joongang.co.kr]
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