S. Korea officials face punishment over 'nut rage'

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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - Four South Korean officials will be punished for improper conduct during an investigation into a former Korean Air Lines executive who forced a flight to return over a bag of macadamia nuts, the Transport Ministry said Monday.

The punishments could include dismissals, salary reductions or formal reprimands, according to Shin Eun-chul, the official who headed the ministry's internal investigation. The ministry also issued warnings to four other lower-ranking officials who were involved in the investigation.

Earlier this month, then-Korean Air executive Cho Hyun-ah, the daughter of the airline's chairman, forced a plane that was preparing to take off in New York to return to the gate and kicked off the chief flight attendant because she had been served nuts in a bag, not on a plate.

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S. Korea officials face punishment over 'nut rage'
In this Dec. 30, 2014, Cho Hyun-ah, former vice president of Korean Air Lines, arrives at the Seoul Western District Prosecutors Office in Seoul, South Korea, South Korean prosecutors on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2015, charged Cho who achieved worldwide notoriety by kicking a crew member off a flight with violating aviation security law and hindering a government investigation.(AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
The daughter of the Korean Air Lines chairman is sentenced to one year in prison for violationg an aviation law in a case that's become known as 'nut rage'. Last December, Heather Cho, unhappy that her nuts were served in a bag and not on a dish, ordered the plane to return to the gate after it started to taxi. She also demanded the head of inflight service to be removed. During testimony last month, the crew chief testified that Cho behaved "like a beast" and treated the crew "like slaves".
A bus carrying Cho Hyun-ah, former vice president of Korean Air Lines Co., arrives for her trial at the Seoul Western District Court in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, Feb. 2, 2015. Cho on trial after an inflight tantrum over a serving of nuts defended her actions as the result of devotion to work in the final day of testimony. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - JANUARY 30: Cho Yang-Ho, Korean Air Chairman & CEO arrives at the Seoul Western District Court on January 30, 2015 in Seoul, South Korea. The chairman of Korean Air Lines Co. Cho Yang-ho appeared in court as a witness in the trial over his eldest daughter Cho Hyun-ah's alleged obstruction of aviation safety in the 'nut rage' incident. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
Cho Hyun-ah, who was head of cabin service at Korean Air and the oldest child of Korean Air chairman Cho Yang-ho, speaks to the media upon her arrival for questioning at the Aviation and Railway Accident Investigation Board office of Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, Dec. 12, 2014. The chairman of Korean Air Lines Co. apologized Friday for the behavior of his adult daughter who delayed a flight in an incident now dubbed "nut rage." (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
Cho Hyun-ah, who was head of cabin service at Korean Air and the oldest child of Korean Air chairman Cho Yang-ho, speaks to the media upon her arrival for questioning at the Aviation and Railway Accident Investigation Board office of Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, Dec. 12, 2014. The chairman of Korean Air Lines Co. apologized Friday for the behavior of his adult daughter who delayed a flight in an incident now dubbed "nut rage." (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
Korean Air chairman Cho Yang-ho, speaks to the media about an apology at its head office in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, Dec. 12, 2014. Cho apologized Friday for the behavior of his adult daughter who delayed a flight in an incident now dubbed "nut rage." (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
Korean Air chairman Cho Yang-ho, bows for an apology at its head office in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, Dec. 12, 2014. Chairman Cho apologized Friday for the behavior of his adult daughter who delayed a flight in an incident now dubbed "nut rage." (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
Cho Hyun-ah, who was head of cabin service at Korean Air and the oldest child of Korean Air chairman Cho Yang-ho, bows upon her arrival for questioning at the Aviation and Railway Accident Investigation Board office of Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, Dec. 12, 2014. The chairman of Korean Air Lines Co. apologized Friday for the behavior of his adult daughter who delayed a flight in an incident now dubbed "nut rage." (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
A Korean Air executive who delayed a plane because she was angry with the way she had been served nuts by an air steward has resigned, the airline says.
CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 19: A Korean Air jet taxis at O'Hare International Airport on September 19, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. In 2013, 67 million passengers passed through O'Hare, another 20 million passed through Chicago's Midway Airport, and the two airports combined moved more than 1.4 million tons of air cargo. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 19: A Korean Air jet taxis at O'Hare International Airport on September 19, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. In 2013, 67 million passengers passed through O'Hare, another 20 million passed through Chicago's Midway Airport, and the two airports combined moved more than 1.4 million tons of air cargo. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
South Korean President Park Geun-Hye (2ndR) poses flanked by French employers' association Medef President Pierre Gattaz (L), South Korean Hanjin group president Cho Yang-ho (2ndL) and French general commissioner for Investment Louis Gallois (R) prior to deliver a speech at the Medef headquarters in Paris on November 4, 2013. AFP PHOTO ERIC PIERMONT (Photo credit should read ERIC PIERMONT/AFP/Getty Images)
PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC - APRIL 10: Cho Yang-Ho, the Chairman and CEO of Korean Air looks on after the signing of a contract at the Government Office on April 10, 2013 in Prague, Czech Republic. Korean Air representatives signed a contract purchasing 460,725 Czech Airlines (CSA) shares which represent a 44 per cent stake in CSA. (Photo by Martin Divisek/isifa/Getty Images)
PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC - APRIL 10: Chi Chang Hoon (L), President of Korean Air, Cho Yang-Ho (C), the Chairman and CEO of Korean Air, and Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas (R) are seen after the signing of a contract at the Government Office on April 10, 2013 in Prague, Czech Republic. Korean Air representatives signed a contract purchasing 460,725 Czech Airlines (CSA) shares which represent a 44 per cent stake in CSA. (Photo by Martin Divisek/isifa/Getty Images)
The chairmans and the vice president of six airline companies members of Skyteam alliance (fromL) Mexican vice-president of Aeromexico Yorge de Lara, Korean Yang-Ho Cho of Korean air, French Jean-Cyrill Spinetta of Air France, US Frederick Reid of Delta Airlines, Italian Francesco Mengozzi of Alitalia and Czech Miroslav Kula of Czech Airlines pose 22 May 2003 in Paris prior to attend the executive committee of the alliance. The members of Skyteam announced 22 May to have set up a reinforced commercial cooperation on transatlantic lines. AFP PHOTO JACK GUEZ (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
INCHEON, REPUBLIC OF KOREA: Korean Air chairman Cho Yang-Ho attends a celebration of the 35th Air anniversary of the company at Incheon, west of Seoul, 02 March 2004. South Korean flag carrier Korean Air unveiled a massive expansion plan Tuesday aimed at boosting its image and making it one of the world's top airlines. AFP PHOTO/JUNG YEON-JE (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
SOUTH KOREA - MARCH 02: Korean Air Co. Ltd. Chairman Cho Yang-ho, right, and President Lee Jong-hee, left, present the airline's new first class Cocoon Seat during Korean Air's 35th anniversary in Inchon, South Korea Tuesday, March 2, 2004. (Photo by Seokyong Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC - APRIL 10: Chi Chang Hoon (L), President of Korean Air, and Cho Yang-Ho (R), the Chairman and CEO of Korean Air, are seen after signing a contract at the Government Office on April 10, 2013 in Prague, Czech Republic. Korean Air representatives signed a contract purchasing 460,725 Czech Airlines (CSA) shares which represent a 44 per cent stake in CSA. (Photo by Martin Divisek/isifa/Getty Images)
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - NOVEMBER 15: Cho Yang-Ho (C) chairman of Korean Air talks with pilots of the world's largest passenger jet, the Airbus A380 during a landing ceremony at Incheon International Airport on November 15, 2006 in Incheon, South Korea. This was the second Asian stop for the Airbus 380 as final test flights are undertaken during the air certification programme due to be completed towards the end of this year. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
SOUTH KOREA - MARCH 02: Korean Air Co. Ltd. Chairman Cho Yang-ho is pictured during the airline's 35th anniversary in Inchon, South Korea Tuesday, March 2, 2004. (Photo by Seokyong Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
A Korean Air executive who delayed a plane because she was angry with the way she had been served nuts by an air steward has resigned, the airline says.
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The ministry has been under fire following revelations that some officials leaked information and committed other improper acts during the investigation.

One of the officials to be reviewed for punishment was arrested Friday over allegations that he leaked information about the ministry's probe to a current Korean Air executive, surnamed Yeo, through several telephone conversations and text messages.

The ministry found other officials responsible for allowing Yeo to attend the ministry's questioning of the flight attendant forced off the plane and failing to interview other first-class passengers, one of whom who told prosecutors that Cho had assaulted and threatened the flight attendant.

A Seoul court is expected to decide Tuesday whether to issue an arrest warrant for Cho, who resigned as vice president at the airline earlier this month amid mounting public criticism over the incident. Prosecutors are also seeking to arrest Yeo over suspicions that he pressured airline employees to cover up the incident.
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