Seoul: Cho Yang-ho, the Chairman of South Korea’s largest airline Korean Air, whose leadership was overshadowed by several family scandals including his daughter’s infamous “nut rage” incident, has died in the US due to an illness at the age of 70, the company announced on Monday.
Korean Air said in a statement that Cho died at a hospital in Los Angeles on Sunday, without providing further details. But according to Yonhap news agency, Cho’s death was caused by a lung disease.
The news of the Chairman’s passing came barely a few weeks after he was removed from the company’s board owing to a series of scandals involving himself and his family.
Cho was to be tried over avoiding inheritance tax and embezzling company funds, while his wife was accused of physically and verbally abusing company staff and of employing domestic workers illegally.
Cho’s two daughters have also been in the spotlight for their behaviour, Efe news reported.
One of his daughters, Cho Hyun-min, a former senior executive at Korean Air, flew into a rage during a meeting in April last year and allegedly threw a glass of water at an advertising agency official.
Her elder sister, Cho Hyun-ah, a former Vice-President of Korean Air, was sentenced to prison in 2015 over a “nut rage” incident involving forcing the return of a flight to the gate in New York in 2014 because she was angry about her macadamia nuts being served in a packet, not a plate.
These incidents led the Korean Air Chairman to issue a public apology and fire his daughters from the positions they were holding in the company.
Meanwhile, the expulsion of Cho in March made him the first founding family member of a major South Korean conglomerate or “chaebol” to be voted off the board by the shareholders.
Almost three-quarters of the shareholders had attended an annual meeting at the company headquarters in Seoul on March 27, where 64 per cent of them had voted in favour of Cho’s reappointment as Director, just short of the two-thirds required for the motion to be passed.
The series of scandals involving the Cho family negatively impacted the company, which posted a net loss of 167 billion won (around $147 million) during the last financial year.
Cho was also the Chairman of Korean Air’s holding company, Hanjin Group, a logistics and transportation giant and the 14th-largest South Korean conglomerate.
Following Cho’s death, Hanjin announced that his only son, Cho Won-tae will for now lead the group.