Hundreds of employees at South Korea's two largest airlines held a joint rally on Saturday, calling for the airlines' patriarchs to step down over a string of scandals that sparked a huge public outcry.
It was the first time that employees of Korean Air Lines Co. and Asiana Airlines Inc. had held a joint rally, although some employees of Korean Air participated in rallies organized by employees of Asiana Airline earlier this month.
Mostly wearing masks or sunglasses due to fears of retaliation, more than 300 employees shouted slogans saying that Korean Air Chairman Cho Yang-ho and Asiana Airlines Chairman Park Sam-koo must resign because their "unfair" orders could harm passenger safety.
A Korean Air captain told the rally that employees had been suffering from "gapjil" at the hands of the patriarchs and their family members because the employees were "weak." "Gapjil" refers to people in positions of power bullying those under their control or influence.
"If we are not weak, we must unite and fight. We must take action via labor unions and fight within the law," the captain said.
Park Chang-jin, a Korean Air chief steward who was demoted but later reinstated by the company for revealing the infamous "nut rage" incident, told the crowds that he was deeply moved by the joint rally.
Park urged President Moon Jae-in to pay attention to the employees of the two airlines who have suffered from heavy-handed conduct by the founding families.
Korean Air Chairman Cho Yang-ho has been under investigation over suspicions of dodging inheritance tax and embezzling company funds. Cho's wife has been accused of multiple assaults of employees and illegally hiring of foreign housekeepers.
Cho's two daughters have also undergone probes by law enforcement in recent months on charges similar to those against their mother, including the eldest, Hyun-ah, who infamously drew international attention for the 'nut rage' incident in 2014.
Asiana has been under public scrutiny after massive in-flight meal service disruptions that recently led to over 100 of its flights taking off without food. The fiasco resulted in the suicide of the head of a supplier to Asiana's new caterer, which had failed to produce food on time.
Asiana Chairman Park Sam-koo made a public apology, but criticism mounted as media reports said the disruption of the in-flight meal service might have been ultimately caused by Park's opaque decisions. (Yonhap)