Former Korean Air executive Cho Hyun-Ah (Heather Cho) is surrounded by journalists after she received a suspended jail sentence and was freed by a Seoul appeals court on May 22, 2015.
Jung Yeon-Je—AFP/Getty Images
December 24, 2019

The South Korean business dynasty that gained notoriety with the “nut-rage incident” is generating turbulence again.

Cho Hyun-ah, or Heather Cho, the eldest daughter of the founding family’s late patriarch, voiced her discontent over how her brother has been running the Hanjin conglomerate, whose units include flag carrier Korean Air Lines Co.

Walter Cho, the 43-year-old chairman of Hanjin Group and holding company Hanjin Kal Corp., has been running the companies without adequately consulting the rest of the family, violating their father’s wishes, she said in an emailed statement made through her lawyers.

It’s the first time that any member of the founding family publicly voiced discontent over the management of Hanjin since the patriarch, Cho Yang-ho, died in April. In November, the siblings inherited their father’s stake in Hanjin Kal in accordance with the law.

“Hanjin Group is being managed in a way that goes against the previous chairman’s wishes,” Heather Cho said in the statement. “There haven’t been sufficient discussions about who to name as the head of the Hanjin Group. I will listen to various views of shareholders.”

Walter Cho wasn’t immediately reachable but the group issued a public apology for the family controversy.

Hanjin Kal, which owns shares in Korean Air and other Hanjin units, rose 20% in Seoul trading, the most since April. Korean Air advanced 4.7% and Jin Air, another Hanjin Kal holding, climbed 4.1%.

Walter Cho owns 6.52% of Hanjin Kal and the older sister has 6.49%, according to a November filing. Emily Cho, the youngest in the family, has 6.47% and their mother 5.31%.

Heather Cho, 45, gained global notoriety after she ordered a Korean Air plane to return to the gate after scolding a flight attendant for the way macadamia nuts were served in premium class. As a result of the December 2014 incident, she was convicted for usurping a pilot’s authority and spent five months in prison.

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