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Reports from Seoul said Cho Hyun-ah, the airline’s vice-president and the eldest daughter of its chief executive, Cho Yang-ho, could face legal action following the incident, which forced the aircraft to stop taxiing and return to its gate at JFK airport. Cho Hyun-ah reportedly screamed at the flight attendant, who has not been named, for not asking her if she would like a preflight snack of macadamia nuts, and then for committing the egregious act of serving them in a paper bag rather than on a plate. At one point, Cho reportedly told the attendant to fetch the in-flight service manual so that she could check company policy on serving nuts in the first-class cabin.
The executive, Cho Hyun-ah, resigned Tuesday amid a storm of public criticism in South Korea. The airline had earlier excused her behavior even as it apologized for inconveniencing passengers. South Korean media reported this week that the flight from New York City to Incheon, South Korea returned to the gate after Cho told the head of cabin crew to leave the plane. The reports said Cho quarreled with crew in the first class cabin and the flight departed 20 minutes late. Cho, 40, is the oldest child of Korean Air's chairman, tycoon Cho Yang-ho. Her two siblings are also executives at South Korea's largest airline. The incident caused uproar in South Korea where it was seen as an example of over-mighty behavior by the offspring of the moneyed elite.