Jailed ‘Nut Rage’ Korean Air Executive to Be Released on Appeal

Heather Cho
Former Korean Air executive Heather Cho is surrounded by journalists after she received a suspended jail sentence and was freed by a Seoul appeals court. Photographer: Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images

The daughter of Korean Air Lines Co.’s chairman will be released from jail after an appeals court suspended her prison sentence for undermining a pilot’s authority in ordering a crew member to disembark over service of macadamia nuts.

The Seoul High Court on Friday handed Heather Cho a suspended 10-month sentence after rejecting an earlier ruling that she was guilty of changing the plane’s flight route, a court official said. Cho ordered the plane back to the gate in New York so she could eject the crew member she had scolded for offering her macadamia nuts in a bag, rather than on a plate in the first-class section.

Cho had been sentenced in February to one year in prison. The court said she has “done enough reflection and needs a new chance after changing her disposition,” the spokesman said by phone, asking not be identified in line with court policy.

Cho’s arrest in December followed a public outcry in South Korea after the incident re-ignited a long-running debate over whether the country’s vaunted chaebol, or family-run conglomerates, hold too much power and influence.

South Korean and overseas media dubbed the incident as “nut-rage.” Cho resigned from all of her positions at the airline and other affiliates during the public backlash. Her father, Cho Yang Ho, apologized to the public for his daughter’s behavior.

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