'Nut Rage' Exec Gets One Year in Prison

Heather Cho found guilty of obstructing aviation safety
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 12, 2015 6:44 AM CST
Updated Feb 12, 2015 7:52 AM CST
'Nut Rage' Exec Gets 1 Year in Prison
In this Dec. 30, 2014, photo, Heather Cho, also known as Cho Hyun-ah, arrives at the Seoul Western District Prosecutors Office in Seoul, South Korea.   (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon, File)

Former Korean Air executive Heather Cho will spend a year behind bars over an epic case of "nut rage" that her sentencing judge said hurt the "national image" of South Korea. The daughter of the airline's chairman, Cho was found guilty of obstructing aviation safety after a Dec. 5 incident in which she threw a tantrum and forced her taxiing plane to return to the gate at JFK Airport so the chief flight attendant could be removed—all because Cho was served macadamia nuts in a bag rather than on a dish, the BBC reports. "Human dignity was trampled upon," a judge said today, noting Cho acted "as if it was her own private plane." The judge added that Cho, in custody since December, wasn't remorseful, and letters of apology submitted to the court describing her newfound humility didn't seem genuine.

South Koreans are taking no small amount of glee in the downfall of the scion of one of its "chaebol," or family-controlled mega-businesses often run like personal empires, reports the AP. The chief flight attendant testified that Cho became like "a beast looking for her prey, grinding her teeth, yelling" during the incident and made him and the attendant who served her apologize on their knees "like slaves in a medieval era," the New York Times reports. Prosecutors had asked for a three-year prison sentence based partly on additional charges of using her position to obstruct due process and assault with a service manual. The judge said Cho's twins, under 2 years old, factored into the sentencing, Reuters reports. Another Korean Air executive was sentenced to eight months in prison for pushing crew members to lie to investigators. (The incident caused macadamia sales to surge.)

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