Great moments in nepotism

Readers must have heard about the case of Heather Cho, a senior Korean Air executive who, on a flight from New York to Seoul, was enraged when the purser (the flight crew chief) served her nuts the wrong way (in a bag and not in a dish) as the plane left the gate and headed for the runway.

She reportedly first made the purser kneel and ask for forgiveness. But even that was not enough. Maybe he knelt the wrong way. She ordered the plane back to the gate and forced him to leave the plane. It was only then that the plane took off. What made this particularly noteworthy was that the executive was the daughter of the Chair of Korean Air.

Initially, the company defended her action.

Korean Air backed up up the VP’s decision, saying in a statement released on Sunday, “The purser didn’t know the company’s procedures and ‘kept on making up lies and excuses.'” The airline said the plane was only 10 meters from the gate when the return demand was made, and noted the flight was only 11 minutes late arriving in Seoul.

But as the airline started to receive considerable ridicule in the media, the company reversed course and fired Cho, though they did not make her kneel during her public televised apology. What was interesting was that her father blamed her behavior on poor parenting on his part, saying, “Please blame me; it’s my fault. I failed to raise her properly.” But the father too was in the late 1990s involved in a tax evasion and embezzlement scandal and jailed for seven months. Maybe his father, if still alive, should also apologize.

The US is riddled with nepotism too, with many figures in politics and the media achieving their rapid rise aided by their parents’ connections. It would be nice to have the parents apologize when their children make colossal mistakes. Perhaps George H. W. Bush could start by apologizing for the monumental crimes committed by his son George W. Bush.


  1. Trebuchet says

    Perhaps George H. W. Bush could start by apologizing for the monumental crimes committed by his son George W. Bush.

    And those yet to be committed by brother Jeb, who has just announced he’s kinda sorta thinking about running for pres in 2016!

  2. Sean (I am noit an imposter) says

    Perhaps George H. W. Bush could start by apologizing for the monumental crimes committed by his son George W. Bush.

    Papa Doc should begin by apologizing for his own crimes before getting Baby Doc to smirk in contrition.

    The US presidency is the ultimate in nepotism: you don’t get a crack at that job unless you know the right people then it’s practically an appointment. If another Bush gets (s)elected to win this Game of Clones we should just do away with the facade of democracy altogether and crown him king. Then we can all kneel before our lord and master.

  3. corwyn says

    I don’t understand. Where did the purser get individual bags of nuts? If company policy is to serve nuts in a dish, wouldn’t they provide a large container of nuts to be split into a portion for each passenger. How was it even possible to make this mistake?

  4. JPS says

    I was going to drop in a joke (“Factory owner to floor worker: ‘I’d like you to meet my son. He’s going to start at the bottom for a few days’.”).
    But that almost exactly happened in the late 70’s at the Willmar’s [Minnesota] Citizens National Bank when a group of women tellers sought pay equity.

    The issue came to a head in April 1977, when the women were told to train a young male employee who had been hired at a better wage and would eventually become their supervisor. They had not been allowed to apply for the job themselves. They went to see Bank President Leo Pirsch and demanded an end to the discrimination. Pirsch told the women, “We’re not all equal, you know.” Men need more money because they have to pay for dates, he said.

    The women walked the picket line for nearly two years — including through the dead of the Minnesota winter.
    Quote from and much more detail at

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