The Korean Air Nut Rage
After an unfortunate case of managerial misconduct on December 5, 2014, Cho Hyun-ah, also known as Heather Kim the former vice president of Korean Air, was forced to resign. The reason for her sudden downfall: macadamia nuts. Cho was sitting in first class and prior to takeoff was handed macadamia nuts by a flight attendant regardless of the fact that Cho did not request for any. Furthermore, the flight attendant served the nuts still in its bag, which differs from the manual that flight attendants should follow. Furious of the attendant’s actions, Cho reprimanded the flight attendant and demanded the plane which was already on the taxiway to return back to the gate. Cho was found guilty and the flight attendants are filing lawsuits against her.
In 2016, South Korean has taken action to revise and add more to the aviation laws. Before the Korean Air Nut Rage incident, the offense of disturbing the pilot did not carry any jail term or fine. However, now, for the same offence, those guilty can be charged for up to five years in jail or a hefty fine.
The Korean Air Nut Rage incident sheds light on the problem of “Gabjil,” which is a Korean term holding a negative meaning that the higher ranked people boss around the people who are ranked below them. To have a better understanding, it was made from the words “gab” and “eur.” Gab represents the person with more power and eur the weak. It originally comes from legal terminology, but is now used to talk about any relationships such as boss/subordinate or adult/child. Therefore “Gabjil,” can easily be understood as acting as the gab.
Aside from the episode of Cho and the macadamia nuts, there are many examples of “Gabjil,” in Korean society. Not long after the Nut Rage, a mother and a daughter mother and daughter forced a part time worker at one of the Hyundai Department stores in Korea to park their car though they were not valet parking. Following the worker’s denial to park, the mother and daughter assaulted the parking lot part time worker because they considered themselves as the gab of the situation. Another case of “Gabjil,” happened recently when a part time worker for the Korean Tourism Company was fired for refusing to take off a mask she was wearing. The employee was wearing the mask to protect herself from germs due to the ongoing MERS infections, but the company felt that it was a distraction when translating for the tourists. Consequently, the employee was fired and the public is criticizing the company’s decision. “Gabjil,” remains as a serious problem that needs to be solved.
Many Korean celebrities have parodied Cho Hyun-ah’s looks as she entered court for her trial. Here are some of them.
Picture1: Singer Kim Heechul imitating Cho Hyun Ah Picture2: (Left) Singer Kang Gyun-Sung imitating Cho Hyun-Ah(right)