Korean Air matriarch grilled over illegal maids

Madam Lee Myung Hee was questioned yesterday in Seoul over suspicions of illegally hiring Filipino maids to work at her family home.
Madam Lee Myung Hee was questioned yesterday in Seoul over suspicions of illegally hiring Filipino maids to work at her family home.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

SEOUL • The matriarch of the troubled Korean Air dynasty has been grilled over allegations she used company resources to illegally hire foreign housekeepers, as a probe into the scandal-hit family widened.

Madam Lee Myung Hee, 69, who was questioned by police twice last month over multiple assault allegations, was interrogated by the immigration authorities over suspicions she had hired more than 10 Filipino maids to work at her family home on false pretences, by claiming they were working for Korean Air.

South Korean law permits only ethnic Koreans or those married to South Koreans to work as housekeepers. The authorities suspect Madam Lee had the airline's human resources department and its Manila branch recruit the housekeepers and provide them with documentation.

"I didn't," she replied to questions on whether she had ordered Korean Air officials to hire the housekeepers, removed evidence by letting them leave the country after the allegations emerged and bought their silence. "I will cooperate closely," she told journalists yesterday after she appeared at the Korea Immigration Service.

Madam Lee and her family have found themselves the object of public anger following a series of scandals. Her two daughters, who held management positions at South Korea's national carrier, became viral sensations for temper tantrums which were dubbed the "nut rage" and "water rage" scandals online.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 12, 2018, with the headline 'Korean Air matriarch grilled over illegal maids'. Print Edition | Subscribe