Wife of Korean Air chief questioned over assault claims

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The wife of Korean Air chairman Cho Yang-ho has been accused of assaulting airline employees and household staff, widening allegations of bad behavior by the South Korean family. 

Police summoned Lee Myung-hee on Monday for questioning about allegations she physically or verbally abused more than 10 former and current employees of Cho’s Hanjin conglomerate, the parent of Korean Air.

“I feel truly sorry to the victims for causing damage,” Lee told reporters as she arrived at the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency for questioning.

The Cho family has been under mounting public criticism after company employees alleged they were subjected to mistreatment and tantrums.

Lee’s eldest daughter, Cho Hyun-ah, who was formerly the head of the airline’s cabin service, infamously delayed a flight in 2014 after she threw an inflight tantrum over how she was served macadamia nuts.

She was sentenced to one year in prison for violating aviation law with the onboard “nut rage”, but was released early when a higher-level court suspended the sentence.

Last week, Cho Hyun-ah was investigated by South Korean immigration officials over allegations she unlawfully hired housekeepers from the Philippines.

Cho Hyun-ah’s younger sister, Cho Hyun-min, is also under investigation for allegedly hurling a cup of water during a business meeting.

South Korean authorities are looking into suspicions the Cho family, including Cho Yang-ho, evaded taxes and used airline services to smuggle luxury goods.

Korean Air pilots, cabin crew and activists held a protest earlier this month in the South Korean capital, calling for Cho Yang-ho to resign.

People take part in a protest against the abuse of power by the family of Korean Air chairman [Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters]

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