Hundreds of masked Korean Air employees clad in full uniform with candles in their hands resurrected on Friday evening the famous candlelight vigil protest of Gwanghwamun in downtown Seoul, hoping their actions could bring out the same doom for their disgraced chief Cho Yang-ho and his daughters.
The Gwanghwamun candlelight vigil has become an iconic Korean protest after weekend rallies that started in October 2016 moved the National Assembly to impeach former President Park Geun-hye, leading the Constitutional Court in March 2017 to remove the acting president for the first time in the country’s history.
An online community of former and current Korean Air employees invited colleagues as well as the public to join them in their candle-lit rally against the Cho family and pulled in more than 500.
Instances of employees rallying to demand the owner family to step down are extremely rare.
Chairman Cho recently removed his two daughters from management positions after one of them, Cho Hyun-min, former senior vice president of Korean Air, allegedly hurled a cup of water at an advertising executive in an angry outburst. The police on Friday filed a warrant to arrest Cho for assault and obstruction of business but prosecutors denied the request, saying there is insufficient proof that she is a flight risk or trying to destroy evidence.
Her older sister, Cho Hyun-ah, also made the headlines in 2014 for her onboard tantrum over how nuts were served to her in first class. She had then ordered the plane to return to the gate to have the chief flight attendant removed. She spent several months in jail for violating airline safety laws but quietly returned to leadership after a four-year hiatus. The tantrum reports also spilled over to their mother with a video of her outbursts going viral.
Recent allegations that the two heiresses have used the Korean Air fleet to smuggle luxury goods have thrown the Cho family into further turmoil. Airline employees have been coming forward with evidence that they have helped the family smuggle foreign goods into Korea for the past nine years by disguising them as corporate assets.
By Moon Ji-woong and Kim Hyo-jin
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]