SEOUL: The daughter of Korean Air’s chairman appealed Friday against her conviction for violating aviation safety law during a “nut rage” incident that invited international ridicule.
Cho Hyun-Ah, a former executive vice president of the airline, was handed a one-year jail term on Thursday, after being found guilty of safety breaches and assaulting cabin staff.
The main charge related to her decision to force a taxiing New York-Seoul KAL flight to return to its departure gate on December 5.
Cho had insisted on expelling the chief purser from the plane after taking exception to being served macadamia nuts in a bag, rather than a bowl.
Her defence team said Friday it believed the district court in Seoul had misinterpreted the aviation law in reaching its guilty verdict.
“The appeal was sent today to the high court, calling for the re-examination of her conviction and jail term,” one of Cho’s lawyers told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Prosecutors had asked for a three-year jail sentence, but the judge said he had taken into account the fact that Cho had two young children and that her personal and professional reputation had been shattered.
In finding Cho guilty of illegally altering the course of a plane, the judge ruled that an aircraft should be deemed “in flight” from the moment it begins to move, even if it is still on the tarmac.
It is this distinction that the defence team is most likely to challenge on appeal.
Cho’s behaviour triggered a huge public backlash in South Korea, where it was seen as emblematic of a generation of spoilt and arrogant offspring of owners of the giant family-run conglomerates, or “chaebols”, that dominate the national economy.