SEOUL - The family that owns Korean Air Lines Co. is suspected of having illegally hired more than 10 Philippine housekeepers, Seoul's immigration office said on Wednesday (May 16), Yonhap news agency reported.
The Seoul office of the Korea Immigration Service said they obtained statements backing such suspicions from Korean Air officials in the human resources division during an interrogation earlier in the day.
The questioning focused on verifying how the housekeepers came into the country, how they were paid by the Cho family and who actually hired them, the office said.
The immigration office, part of the Ministry of Justice, has been investigating allegations that the wife of Chairman Cho Yang Ho has unlawfully recruited maids from the Philippines for many years. They mostly worked for Lee Myung Hee - Cho's wife - and Cho Hyun Ah - their eldest daughter and former Korean Air vice-president.
The authorities raided the Korean Air headquarters in western Seoul last week, and based on the confiscated evidence, suspect the illicit hiring of 10-20 Filipino housekeepers, Yonhap reported.
A foreigner must have an F-4 or F-6 visa in order to work as a housekeeper in South Korea. Those alleged to have been hired by Lee came to Korea on a D-4, which is for persons subject to a traineeship.
The immigration office said it is considering requesting summons through diplomatic and international law enforcement channels. Most of the housekeepers in question are known to have returned home after the probe began.
The founding family of the airline-to-hotel conglomerate is also under investigation over a series of allegations ranging from assault and abuse of power at the workplace to suspected smuggling of luxury goods.