By Moon Ji-woong and Lee Eun-joo
Jin Air, a budget carrier under Korean Air Lines, could face a penalty as heavy as a cancellation of fight license for violating domestic commercial aviation rules for seating American citizen Cho Hyun-min, the controversial daughter of the group chairman, on its board.
The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport in its website said the government has referred the matter to outside legal team on the possibility of the carrier violating regulations, an act that can cost its license in the airline business.
The ministry will decide on whether to take away the license after deliberation results come out.
Shares of Jin Air plunged more than 9 percent during the day to as low as 29,150 won ($26.9) before finishing down 4.05 percent at 30,800 won Wednesday.
The ministry has embarked on a probe upon a tip that the youngest daughter had served on the board of the budget unit although she is an American citizen, which violates the local aviation rules that ban foreign nationals on the board of a national passenger carrier.
Hanjin Group family members and companies came under a barrage of probes from authorities ranging from prosecution and fair trade commission to the transportation ministry after the youngest daughter’s tantrum generated a gush of reports of outrageous excesses by the Cho family from employees.
Employees of Korean Air and other Hanjin Group companies staged a rally in masks and uniforms in downtown Seoul last weekend demanding the Cho family steps down from management for demoralizing their workplaces.
The government’s action reflects the public outcries, but legal experts are doubtful if the act demands as strong an act as revoking a business license that could unsettle the jobs of 1,700 Jin Air.
The Seoul police, separately probing the mother of the “tantrum” sisters said on Wednesday that it applied for court warrant to ban Lee Myung-hee, wife of Hanjin Group Chairman Cho and director of Ilwoo Foundation, from leaving the country. Cho Hyun-ah, the older daughter, also made headlines four years ago when she disrupted a flight in a rage over how she was served macadamia nuts.
The police launched a formal investigation into Lee after a video showing her assaulting construction workers and exercising physical and verbal violence went viral.