“Nutgate” and Misinformation


We are embroiled in controversy again and it’s all to do with nuts! As the ‘nut rage’ controversy escalates the Korean press have picked up on why it’s so noteworthy in the west.

On December 5th, Heather Cho, daughter of Korean Air chairman Cho Yang-ho ordered a company plane off a New York runway and back to the terminal to drop off the flight manager. All this because she was served a bag of macadamia nuts by a junior flight attendant who failed to ask her if she wanted them. In addition he had the audacity to serve them without the proper Bone China. The plane, carrying some 250 passengers onboard, was leaving New York for Incheon and the incident caused a delay of 11 minutes in the flight.

The chief flight attendant and a passenger stated that the Hanjin Group (a Korean chaebol) heiress offended the cabin crew by using abusive language and violence. New testimonies from witnesses have supported this claim providing damning evidence high-lighting her inappropriate behaviour.

“I begged her forgiveness on behalf of the flight attendant but Cho poked my hand with the corner of a file while hurling abuses at us,” the purser Park Chang-jin said in an interview with local broadcaster KBS. He also said Cho made him and the flight attendant kneel in front of her. People who haven’t experienced (such abuse) will not understand my feeling of being insulted and shamed,” he said.

On Sunday, Cho left a note apologising to the chief flight attendant when she visited his home, but he was not there.  It’s become clear that Cho was a bit squiffy (surprise surprise!)  when the “nut rage” incident occurred it seems that she’d quaffed a bottle of vino rouge with her acquaintances before embarkation. Another witness, only identified by her surname Park, who was sitting in front of Cho in the first class cabin of the flight, also backed the purser’s claim by saying that Cho ordered the exclusion of the chief steward and physically pushed him to a corner.

What is amazing is that initially Korean Air stuck up for her saying the service was not the standard expected and that as head of service she was definitely acting appropriately, they of course have now fell silent on the matter. You may indeed wonder what a chaebol is? Well it refers to a South Korean form of business conglomerate. They are typically global multinationals owning many international enterprises, controlled by a chair who has power over all the operations.

“Nut Rage” , is not Heather’s first hullabaloo. Ms Cho, 40, is married to a prominent plastic surgeon who performed his nips and tucks in Gangnam, a district of Seoul famous for its hip shops and narcissistic boys.  In 2013, she gave birth to twin boys in Hawaii, entitling them to US citizenship. Korean Air had sent Ms Cho to work in the US two months before her due date. But within South Korea there was anger that US citizenship meant her sons would be able to avoid South Korea’s two years of compulsory military service famous for its intrinsic bullying, meltdowns and unacceptable suicide rates. I expect the drama will continue for some time yet.

After visiting the Silom Spa for a full body pounding on Saturday morning I ferried myself over the The National Museum of Korea to catch the Pompeii exhibition, it was early so I didn’t expect crowds. How wrong could I be? The Korean penchant for socialising and being educated in ridiculously large groups was in full evidence. The masses and the noise meant I decided to delay my Pompeii experience and re-visit next Friday when they’ll all be in school or at work.

I hate being mislead and it happened this weekend when the “Visit Seoul” website sold FOBY and I a bummer. The Dapsimni Antique Shopping Mall is worthwhile destination to visit, well I can tell you it’s not! On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being a high-grade it gets a 1. The Joongang Daily describes the area as “a real find”, they’d obviously imbibed a few with Heather when they scribed that.

“The air was heavy with the smell of old paper, old wood, old fabric – in fact, old everything. Dapsimni Antique Shopping Complex had chests, ceramics, traditional doors with all sorts of patterns, bird cages, wheels off a carriage and almost anything else one could imagine. Some of the items seemed to have traits of Chinese and Japanese culture. But who knows for certain?”  – Joongang Daily

There was indeed plenty of old paper, old wood and old fabric or at least repro versions. Most of the shops were closed or uninhabited and the “jolly” was a major disappointment, so my advice is give it a miss though the Yukgaejang (spicy beef and vegetable soup), in an adjacent café was pretty good.

The afternoon was spent strolling back to my digs; from the DDP we pottered through Jongno trying to find a decent phone shop so we could play with the new iPhones. Unsuccessful though that was I intended to try again on Sunday.

In the evening after sampling the delights of The Coco chicken in Yaksu we had a beer in Jogno before FOBY headed home for “Ma” duty. I stopped of at Brew 3:14 for a couple of IPA’s before hitting the sack. I woke early because SBS keep replaying the EPL and I was able to catch City and Chelsea recording further victories against Leicester and Hull great. The Guest House Korea rooms are a little dated but the communal areas are great and they provided decent coffee, toast, butter and overly sweet Korean jam for breakfast.

I’d intended to visit the Buk Seoul Art Museum in far North West Seoul but changed my mind as I decide to take a lazy caffeine fuelled stroll around Jogno. I also made further futile attempts to get my hands on an iPhone 6 plus 128gb. Jogno in winter is less lively but denizens of late nights scattered the pavements or slept in the cafes.  I eventually settled in Holly’s for the wi-fi access and ultimately to read a review of the iPhone 6 plus’ photo and video merits.  The review by Austin Mann featured his video diary of a trip to Iceland, you can view it here. The seed was then set, I had to have one! Braving the now near arctic weather I visited eight phone retailers, most had no iPhone plus and the  one that did only had 16 GB.  Can I order one? When will they be in stock? I can’t reserve and they had no idea when deliveries would occur. Undeterred I headed to the flagship Lotte store in Myeongdong who had neither iPhone 6 or 6 plus and reiterated the unable to answer my questions mantra. The same story at Frisbee so with that I headed South to the Express Bus Terminal and the huge Shinsegae Department Store, yet another retail disappointment, my iPhone safari was over.

EBT was so busy I had a two-hour wait for the bus to Chungju. It was a triumph just to find a seat among the chaos and cacophony of noise. Thankfully I slept the whole journey home and called FOBY who’ll order the phone for me from the Apple Korea online store.

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