Korean Air Heiress Tearful in ‘Nut Rage’ Trial Appearance

kpopluv, Feb. 4, 2015, 10:57 a.m.

Korean Air heiress Cho Hyun-ah, on trial for violating aviation safety in a fit of "nut rage" in December last year, pleaded for mercy in a court on Tuesday after prosecutors demanded a three-year jail sentence.  A teary-eyed Cho (41) expressed regret that her "childish mistake" and "failure to consider other people's feelings caused great damage." 

Cho kept her head bowed throughout her remarks, a position she has adopted throughout the trial that lasted over 10 hours.   Cho was arrested after she threw a tantrum at JFK International Airport in New York on Dec. 5 and kicked the purser off the plane, which forced the taxiing aircraft to return to the gate. 

The court heard that Cho was verbally and physically abusive to cabin crew after she was served a bag of nuts incorrectly, and violated aviation safety regulations. She is also accused of using her authority to coerce cabin crew to give false testimony to investigators and obstructing the investigation. 

But despite her lachrymose performance, Cho denies most of those charges and claims it was only her "zeal for her job" -- she was a vice president nominally in charge of in-flight services -- that prevented her from being more considerate.

She maintains that cabin crew disobeyed regulations by serving her macadamia nuts in a bag instead of a plate in first class. Cho also denies that she knew the plane had begun to taxi toward the runway when she ordered the purser off the plane.  Her denials prompted a sarcastic comment from the judge, who asked if she seriously felt she should not be on trial at all. 

Once the trial drew close to an end, Cho seemed to change her attitude. She thanked the judge for giving her a chance to "repent" and apologized to the carrier's customers and employees who had to suffer because of her actions. She also apologized to the public for her outburst. 

She added that after a lot of self-reflection, she realized that she should have considered the feelings of the cabin crew. "I know what I did was wrong and there is no excuse. I will accept any consequences," she said.

Cho broke down in tears as she talked about her family. "If I have one request, it is for the court to act prudently and allow me to return to my children as soon as possible," she said.  Cho is the mother of 19-month-old twins.  Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 12.

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