5 Real-Life Chaebols Who Were Caught Behaving Badly

#4 allegedly destroyed police property during his arrest.

Large Korean conglomerates are often able to have power that even reaches into the topmost levels of politics and are not afraid to use these ties for personal advantages. More often than not, heirs of these rich and powerful “chaebols” get off lightly for offenses they have committed, regardless of how grave the violations are.

Here are 5 real-life chaebols who were caught behaving badly in public and the minor punishments they received.

1. Heather Cho (Nut Rage Incident)

In December of 2014, Heather Cho (also known as Cho Hyun Ah), the then Vice President of Korean Air and the daughter of Korean Air chairman and CEO Cho Yang Ho, attacked a flight attendant for serving her macadamia nuts in a bag instead of a plate. She also made the cabin crew chief kneel in front of her as she hit his knuckles with her tablet. On top of that, she made the flight turn back to the airport gate despite having made take-off preparations from John F Kennedy Airport in New York.

Cho at the Seoul Western District Court | Associated Press

(Middle) Heather Cho | Associated Press

Cho was sentenced to a year in prison for “obstructing aviation safety” in February 2015, but the Seoul High Court found her not guilty of the charge later that year. She only served 5 months in prison before she was released.

2. Emily Cho (Juice Rage Incident)

Sister of Heather Cho, Emily Cho (also known as Cho Hyun Min), also had her own instance of alleged inappropriate behavior. In 2018, Cho was accused of throwing a drink at an advertising agency employee during a business meeting. While she denied the allegations, she publicly apologized for “causing concern” as she cooperated with the police investigation.

Emily Cho arriving at a police station in Seoul. | Associated Press

Ultimately, no charges were filed because the accusers did not wish to file.

3. Shin Dong Hak

The nephew of an unnamed conglomerate chairman was sentenced to two years in prison in 2001 after crashing into the back of a car while drunk. To make matters worse Shin Dong Hak attempted to escape from the scene and ended up driving off while a police officer clung to his car.

The police officer suffered from injuries that required three months of treatment.

4. Kim Dong Seon

The Son of Hanwha Group‘s chairman, Kim Dong Seon has been in the spotlight for the wrong reasons on multiple occasions. In 2017, Kim Dong Seon was arrested for what was called a “drunken rampage” at a bar in Gangnam. According to police reports, he assaulted two employees and threw food into the air while drunk. After being placed under arrest, he destroyed part of the police vehicle transporting him.

| Yonhap News

He was sentenced to eight months in prison, suspended for two years, and 80 hours of community service for this crime. Later that year, he made trouble while drunk once again by allegedly slapping a male lawyer and grabbing a female lawyer’s hair. He later apologized to the two for his behavior, and the two allegedly did not report him to the police for fear of offending Hanwha.

5. Lim Beom Joon

Another chairman’s son, Lim Beom Joon made headlines around the world after a video of his behavior while on a Korean Air flight was shared online. Lim Beom Joon was on a business trip for his father, Lim Byung Sun, CEO of Doo Jung Products, INC, when he had a violent outburst and began attacking passengers and other staff members.

American musician Richard Marx also shared photos of the incident as well as a first-hand account of what happened.

Incheon District Court judge Park Jae Sung sentenced him to 1 year in prison, suspended 2 years, and also fined him ₩5 million KRW ($4,400 USD). While some do not consider Lim Beom Joon a chaebol heir, this is another case of a rich child of a businessman escaping heavy punishment.

Source: Korea Times, The Dong-A Ilbo, News Week and News Article Insiders