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Hanjin family feud escalating over throne of airline-focused group

All News 16:32 February 04, 2020

SEOUL, Feb. 4 (Yonhap) -- The heiress of South Korea's Hanjin Group, widely known for the "nut rage" incident in 2014, on Tuesday faced opposition from her family members over the way of managing the airline-focused conglomerate she proposed last month.

On Friday, Cho Hyun-ah, 45, the eldest daughter of late Hanjin Group and Korean Air Lines Co. Chairman Cho Yang-ho, said she partnered with local activist fund Korea Corporate Governance Improvement (KCGI) and midsized builder Bando Engineering & Construction Co. to invite a professional manager to improve the group's management, financial status and shareholder value.

Her 44-year-old brother Won-tae currently serves as chairman of Hanjin Group and Korean Air after he was appointed to the top post in April following his father's death. His reappointment as chairman is subject to shareholders' approval next month.

In response to Hyun-ah's alliance with the KCGI and Bando, her mother Lee Myung-hee and younger sister Hyun-min, 37, released a joint statement to say they oppose Hyun-ah's approach, expressing regret over her decision.

"We support the current management structure headed by Chairman Cho Won-tae and hope the current management will make its best efforts to enhance financial health and shareholders' value," the statement said.

They also asked Hyun-ah to come back as a member of the Hanjin family and join forces to promote the group's stability and development.

In 2014, Hyun-ah forced a Korean Air flight back to the boarding gate at a New York airport because she lost her temper over the way she was served nuts in first class -- in an unopened bag instead of on a plate.

In 2018, Hyun-ah, the former vice president of the group's flagship Korean Air, came back as head of KAL Hotel Network Co., the hotel affiliate of Hanjin Group. But she was dismissed from the post a month later amid public criticism.

This graphic image shows Hanjin Group's inheritors Cho Hyun-ah (L) and Cho Won-tae, chairman of the group and its flagship Korean Air Lines. (Yonhap)

kyongae.choi@yna.co.kr
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