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"Nut rage" sisters step down from Korean Air

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By Emily Commander
Cho Hyun-ah, after she flew into a rage over some nuts
Cho Hyun-ah, after she flew into a rage over some nuts

The two daughters of the Chairman of Korean Airlines have been forced to stand down from the company after losing their tempers.

"I sincerely apologize for upsetting the general public and employees at Korean Air over issues related to members of my family,"

Cho Yang-ho Chairman, Korean Air

Amidst increasing claims of bullying and abuse of power, Cho Yang-ho apologised for the behaviour of the sisters and said they would be stripped of their responsibilities.

Going nuts

Four years ago, elder daughter,  Cho Hyun-ah (also known as Heather), Vice-President at the time, had to apologise publicly after she flew into a rage when her airline nuts were served to her in a packet rather than a bowl on a flight between New York and Seoul. She forced the employees concerned to kneel and apologise, and had one of them removed from the plane. She later hit another member of staff with a manual.

Cho Hyun-ah served five months in jail for her outburst.

Now her younger sister, Korean Air Senior Vice-President Cho Hyun-min (also known as Emily), is in disgrace for allegedly throwing water in the face of an advertising agency manager. She has admitted to shoving the manager and apologised for her "foolish and reckless behaviour", though she denies throwing water.

A family affair

As is the case with many Korean companies, Korean Air is a family business. The sisters are the granddaughters of the founders of the Hanjin Group, one of the country's chaebols, or family-run business empires. Their brother is President and COO of Korean Air.

Other well-known chaebols include Hyundai and Samsung. Many South Koreans feel that such companies concentrate power and wealth in too small a number of families, and recent political scandals have shone a spotlight on an array of corrupt practices. But chaebols are one of the key components of South Korea's successful economy, and this makes changing their culture extremely difficult.