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Hundreds of Korean Air staff join rally against abuse by founding family

Authorities are investigating multiple charges against chairman Cho Yang-ho’s family, including smuggling and tax evasion.

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South Korea Korean Air

South Korea Korean Air

South Korea Korean Air

Hundreds of Korean Air pilots, cabin crew and other workers have staged a rally in Seoul to say they have had enough of abuse from the company’s founding family.

Crew member Park Chang-jin was among the crowd. He was forced off a Korean Air aircraft at John F Kennedy International Airport in 2014 when the chairman’s daughter threw a tantrum over the way nuts were served.

“I’m proud of Korean Air. I love Korean Air. Let’s protect Korean Air,” he told the roaring crowd.

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Former Korean Air senior vice president Cho Hyun-min (Ahn Young-joon/AP)

Former Korean Air senior vice president Cho Hyun-min (Ahn Young-joon/AP)

AP/PA Images

Former Korean Air senior vice president Cho Hyun-min (Ahn Young-joon/AP)

Authorities are investigating multiple charges against chairman Cho Yang-ho’s family, including smuggling and tax evasion.

Another of his daughters is under investigation for allegedly throwing a drink at advertising agency officials, an allegation she denies.

Such a protest by employees of a chaebol, the family-controlled big businesses that dominate in South Korea, is rare.

It reflects growing resentment against perceived outlandish behaviour by the elite founding families and the view that they treat publicly listed companies as their private firms.

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Protesters wearing masks rally in Seoul over Korean Air's founding family (Lee Jin-man/AP)

Protesters wearing masks rally in Seoul over Korean Air's founding family (Lee Jin-man/AP)

AP/PA Images

Protesters wearing masks rally in Seoul over Korean Air's founding family (Lee Jin-man/AP)

Hiding their faces with identical masks to obscure their identities, the protesters shouted slogans against the Cho family. Many pilots were wearing uniforms and ties.

“We cannot take any more curse and power abuse by the Cho family,” they shouted in unison. They waved banners that read “Cho, you are fired”.

Another banner read: “We want to be treated like a human, not a slave.”

PA