South Korea implements 'anti-nut rage' law after Korean Air outburst

South Korea's Korean Air planes at Gimpo International Airport in Seoul, South Korea. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

SEOUL (AFP) - South Korea brought a new "anti-nut rage" law into effect on Tuesday (Jan 19), prompted by an angry outburst by the daughter of Korean Air's boss over a bag of macadamias.

The revised aviation law, which drastically toughens punishments on unruly passengers, was a direct result of the "nut rage" incident by Cho Hyun Ah in Dec 2014, the Transportation Ministry said.

"The amended law reflects mounting public demand for enhanced aviation safety and the prevention of unruly behaviour during flight following the Korean Air nut rage incident", the ministry said in a press statement.

Under the new law, anyone who disturbs the pilot during a flight could face up to five years in prison or a 50 million won (S$59,400) fine.

In the past, the same offence incurred only a five million won fine without the risk of a jail term.

Under the new law, crew members are obliged to hand over unruly passengers to the authorities or risk a 10 million won fine for failing to do so.

Cho, 41, served five months in jail before walking free in May last year after an appeals court overturned her conviction for violating aviation safety laws.

She was a Korean Air vice-president at the time of her meltdown on board a Seoul-bound flight that had just left the gate in New York.

As the plane was taxiing to the runway, Cho, sitting in first class, became enraged when a flight attendant served her some nuts in a bag, rather than on a plate.

She lambasted the chief steward over the behaviour of his cabin crew and then ordered the plane back to the gate so he could be ejected.

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