In this Dec. 12, 2014 photo, Cho Hyun-ah, who was head of cabin service at Korean Air and the oldest child of Korean Air chairman Cho Yang-ho, speaks to the media upon her arrival for questioning at the Aviation and Railway Accident Investigation Board office of Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport in Seoul, South Korea.
Photo by Lee Jin-man/AP

‘Nut rage’ lands former Korean Air executive behind bars for year

SEOUL, South Korea — A former airline executive was sentenced on Thursday to a year in prison for violating aviation safety law after a trial that stemmed from her tantrum over how she was served macadamia nuts on a flight.

Cho Hyun-ah, the 40-year-old daughter of Korean Air’s chairman, achieved worldwide notoriety after she ordered the chief flight attendant off a Dec. 5 flight, forcing it to return to the gate at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York.

She was angered she had been offered macadamia nuts in a bag instead of a dish. A heated and physical confrontation with members of the crew in first class ensued.

A Seoul court said Cho was guilty of forcing a flight to change its route, obstructing the flight’s captain in the performance of his duties, forcing a crew member off a plane and assaulting a crew member. It found her not guilty of interfering with a transport ministry investigation into the incident. Cho pleaded not guilty and prosecutors had asked for three years in prison.

Cho is one of the richest women in South Korea and was the airline’s head of cabin service at the time of the incident.

Her high-and-mighty behavior, dubbed “nut rage,” caused an uproar in South Korea, where the economy is dominated by family-run conglomerates known as chaebol that often act above the law.

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'Nut rage' lands former Korean Air executive behind bars for year