A member of the Nanyang Business School Advisory Board, Heather Cho, has been heavily criticised in South Korean media as well as the social media for her boorish behavior in disrupting and delaying a Korean Air flight last Friday (5 Dec).
Ms Cho is the eldest daughter of Cho Yang Ho, chairman of Korean Air’s parent company Hanjin Group. She was also the Executive Vice President of Korean Air.
Ms Cho was in a first class seat on a flight bound from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport for Incheon when she yelled at a flight attendant who handed her macadamia nuts in a packet and not on a dish.
She then summoned the cabin crew chief to ask whether the flight attendant was following the in-flight service manual. When the crew chief could not answer the question promptly, she ordered the crew chief to disembark.
The plane, which was already taxiing towards the runway, had to return to the terminal as a result, eventually causing a delay in arrival, affecting 250 passengers on board.
“She may be able to scold the crew member for inappropriate service as a vice president, but aviation law clearly states that it is the captain who supervises the flight crew,” South Korea’s Dong-A Ilbo newspaper said in an editorial today that criticized Ms Cho’s actions as an example of the “sense of privilege” felt by families running the country’s chaebol or conglomerates.
Korean Air claimed that the incident was merely a case of disciplining a staff member but the excuse did not wash with the public.
South Korea’s transport ministry is investigating the incident.
NANYANG BUSINESS SCHOOL ADVISORY BOARD MEMBER
According to NTU website, Ms Heather Cho sits on the Advisory Board of Nanyang Business School, together with Philip Yeo, who is the Chairman of SPRING Singapore and Teo Ser Luck, Minister of State for Trade and Industry.
Ms Cho is not the only board member of NTU, who appeared in the news lately. Another person, Mr Low Check Kian who is a member of the NTU Board of Trustees, recently appeared in Hong Kong news media. He was caught on video kissing a Hong Kong celebrity and model, Kelly Fu, inside a taxi (‘GLC and NTU board member caught snuggling with HK star‘).
The NTU Board of Trustees is a key pillar of university governance as stated on NTU website:
The trustees see themselves as long-term stewards of the university driving for international distinction as a university of science and technology.
UPDATE (10 Dec):
Skynews reported that Ms Cho has resigned from ther EVP position in Korean Air over the incident.
Ms Cho issued a statement through Korean Air, announcing her resignation, “I feel so sorry for our customers and South Koreans for causing such trouble … and seek forgiveness from the people who might have been hurt by me.”
“I will resign from all my posts at Korean Air to take responsibility for the incident.”
Her father, Korean Air tycoon Cho Yang-ho, accepted her resignation immediately.
But a Korean Air spokesman later said Ms Cho would keep her title of vice president even though she no longer holds any official role. It is not clear whether she would hold any responsibilities in the future.
The Dong-A Ilbo newspaper said Ms Cho’s action had exposed the “sense of entitlement and supercilious attitude” prevalent among the rich. “Apparently some members of owner families like Cho see their companies like their own kingdom,” it added.