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THE INVESTOR
April 24, 2019
Big Reunion

Industrials

Korean Air chief dies of chronic disease, ownership change in the offing

  • PUBLISHED :April 08, 2019 - 10:57
  • UPDATED :April 08, 2019 - 10:57
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Korean Air Chairman Cho Yang-ho has died from a chronic disease in the United States, the company said on April 8, just weeks after he was removed from the carrier’s board.

The company said Cho passed away in the US, adding that he had been suffering from a lung cancer.


The death followed his ouster from the company’s board last month and a string of probes involving him and family members for using their superior position mistreat subordinates.

Cho’s removal from the board was the first time a founding family member of any South Korean conglomerate has been forced out of a key post through a vote by shareholders. Cho, 70, was also on trial on charges of embezzlement and breach of trust.

In addition to his own problems, Cho’s wife and two daughters were under intense public criticism for their misbehavior.

Cho’s eldest daughter, Hyun-ah, made international headlines in 2014 when she ordered the Korean Air plane she was aboard to return to its gate at a New York airport after losing her temper over the way she was served nuts.

His youngest daughter, Hyun-min, took flak for allegedly throwing a glass of water during a business meeting with a partner firm. They both resigned from their senior positions at the airline due to the scandals.

Korean Air saw its image hit rock bottom with its performance sliding in 2018. It shifted to a net loss of 167.6 billion won ($147.5 million) last year from a net profit of 801.9 billion won in 2017.

Cho also served as chairman of Hanjin Group which has Korean Air, budget carrier Jin Air, Hanjin KAL and several other companies under its wing.

He is survived by two daughters and a son, Won-tae, who now serves as president of Korean Air Lines.

Cho’s death may change the ownership structure of Hanjin Group and its affiliates, with his only son coming to the forefront in the group’s management.

The late chairman studied business administration at Inha University, which was established by Korean Air. He began his career at Korean Air in 1974 and served as chairman of the 2018 Winter Olympics bidding committee for PyeongChang and chairman of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics Organizing Committee.

Shares of Korean Air jumped 3.29 percent to 32,950 won as of 9:50 a.m., outperforming the broader Kospi’s 0.07 percent gain.

By Ram Garikipati and newswires (ram@heraldcorp.com)

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