Nearly 500 former and current employees of Korean Air Lines Co. staged a candlelight vigil on Friday to protest abusive treatment by the controlling Cho family, amid rising public outcry over an alleged assault by one of the chief's daughters.
The former and current employees at the country's flagship carrier, as well as their families and acquaintances, joined the rally in central Seoul at 7:00 p.m. amid a ballooning scandal in which a former senior executive and daughter of chief Cho Yang-ho is under investigation for allegedly assaulting an advertising company official.
Many protesters, dressed in Korean Air uniforms while wearing masks or sunglasses to conceal their identities, chanted slogans, such as "The Cho family should be removed from management" and "Let's save Korean Air."
It is highly unusual for employees of a large conglomerate in South Korea, known as chaebol, to stage a protest rally against their boss and the owning family.
Cho Hyun-min is accused of throwing a cup of water at an official during a business meeting because she was upset about the official's work performance. The case sparked shocking revelations from employees and others who had worked for Cho's wife, Lee Myung-hee, about how she had verbally and physically abused them for years.
About 100 employees anonymously lodged a notice of assembly with the Seoul Jongno Police Station on Wednesday.
Some social media sites show many postings from citizens expressing their intent to take part in the street protest.
Observers say it reflects anger from both the Korean Air workforce and public over the family of Cho Yang-ho, who controls Hanjin Group, Korean Air's parent firm.
The Friday rally was hosted by Park Chang-jin, a Korean Air official known for his forced exit from a Korea-bound flight at a New York airport by Cho Hyun-ah, the chairman's eldest daughter, who kicked him off the plane because she was angry about the way her macadamia nuts were served.
Cho was convicted and jailed by a local court of violating aviation laws before being released on a Supreme Court's suspended sentence.
"We gathered here not to sabotage Korean Air but to become the company that is loved by employees and all of the people," Park said. (Yonhap)