Flight Attendant Pressured to Sanitize Testimony over Korean Air ‘Nut Rage’ Incident

D-Bo , Feb. 2, 2015, 10:14 a.m.

A flight attendant who triggered a fit of "nut rage" in Korean Air heiress Cho Hyun-ah on Friday testified that airline management told her to sanitize her account of the incident.  Testifying in Cho's ongoing trial, the woman surnamed Kim held back tears as she recounted the farce that unfolded at JFK airport in New York on Dec. 5 and its aftermath.

Kim said Cho, then the carrier's vice president, became abusive after being served nuts in a bag rather than on a plate. "How could I even think of disobeying her orders as I knew she is the daughter of the airline owner," she added. 

Kim said that when Cho told her to get off the plane, "I saw that the plane had begun moving." She added Cho "was standing where she could see the plane moving" –- potentially crucial evidence since lawyers for the heiress said she was unaware that the plane had started taxiing to the runway.

Afterwards, Kim said she was told by a Korean Air manager not to mention Cho's yelling and physical abuse to investigators from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport.  "One of the managers said everyone in this ministry is from Korean Air, they've all got ties to each other, so I couldn't speak frankly to investigators at the ministry," she said.

The flight attendant was rumored to have been offered a teaching position at a university owned by Korean Air in exchange for massaging the facts in Cho’s favor during questioning by prosecutors.  But Kim denied she complied. "I never provided false testimony to prosecutors. I never buckled under any form of pressure," she said.

She added that she did not go home for four days in order to avoid Cho, who had come to her house to apologize.  Kim said, "It doesn't matter whether I can go back to work or not. The most important thing is to restore my honor."  The heiress, who kept her head bowed during the testimony, told Kim, "I sincerely apologize for this incident." 

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