Korean Air chief defeats ‘nut rage’ sister’s challenge

SEOUL (AFP) – The “nut rage” heiress who forced a plane to turn back over her macadamias failed yesterday to wrest control of the family airline from her brother, in what analysts said illustrated the power of incumbents at South Korea’s chaebols.

Cho Hyun-ah, 45, whose family control the Hanjin group that includes flag-carrier Korean Air, made headlines worldwide with her furious reaction over an improperly served bag of nuts in first class.

The airline is now in the throes of a corporate crisis because of the coronavirus pandemic, with hundreds of flights cancelled, staff going on unpaid leave, and executives taking pay cuts.

A months-long battle for control came to a head yesterday at the annual meeting of Hanjin Kal, the holding company for the conglomerate, when Cho and an activist investment fund, Korea Corporate Governance Improvement (KCGI), sought to oust her younger brother Cho Won-tae from the chairmanship.

People wearing face masks walk past a logo of Korean Air at its owner Hanjin Group headquarters in Seoul. PHOTO: AFP