Police seek arrest of Korean Air nut rage sister on juice charges

Seoul (AFP) –


South Korean police on Friday sought a warrant to arrest a Korean Air heiress for allegedly spraying fruit juice over a business associate, as hundreds of employees prepared to rally against the firm's increasingly controversial controlling family.

The Gangseo police station in Seoul said Cho Hyun-min, the daughter of Hanjin Group and Korean Air chairman Cho Yang-ho, was accused of assault and obstruction of business.

Cho is the sister of Cho Hyun-ah, who made global headlines in 2014 for forcing two Korean Air flight attendants to kneel and beg for forgiveness after she was served macadamia nuts in a bag rather than a bowl.

She ordered the Seoul-bound flight back to the gate so one of them could be ejected in an incident quickly dubbed "nut rage".

Since the fruit juice accusations against her younger sister emerged, hundreds of Korean Air personnel have joined an online chat room to allege Cho family misdeeds against employees and domestic staff.

Police said last week they were investigating allegations that the sisters' mother Lee Myung-hee had abused employees verbally and physically.

The series of accusations have put the family among the country's most notorious super-wealthy.

Hundreds of former and current employees of the country's flag carrier were expected to participate in a rally against the family on Friday, covering their faces with masks or sunglasses in case the company tries to track them down.

Loyalty is prized in South Korea and it is rare for employees of its major conglomerates to publicly turn against their owners.

Police said in a statement that Cho Hyun-min was "denying her criminal actions", but "a review of the probe including testimonies by victims and witnesses as well as recorded audio files point to alleged crime".

Korean Air had attempted to influence the victims, police added, and there were concerns Cho could destroy evidence if she was not detained.

Hanjin is among the country's 15 biggest business groups, and as well as Korean Air it owns logistics and transport firms, and has interests in information technology and hotels.

It used to own Hanjin Shipping, once one of the world's biggest shipping firms, which was declared bankrupt last year.

Cho has apologised for the actions of his daughters and ordered them to step down from their company posts.