Hanjin Group heiress Cho Hyun-min/Courtesy of Hanjin Group

Youngest Cho comes back to management to make a stir

Only a day after Hanjin Group confirmed the return of Cho Hyun-min, an heiress of the conglomerate, to management positions, requests for her resignation sprang up across the board.

On June 10, Hanjin confirmed that Hyun-min, the youngest sister of Hanjin Group Chairman Cho Won-tae, had been reinstated as a senior vice president at Hanjin KAL, and executive vice president of Jungseok Enterprise.

The former is the group’s holding company while the latter is an affiliate that focuses on managing real estate.

Her return to management comes 14 months after she infuriated the nation by throwing a drink at an employee during a meeting. That led to a police investigation, which ended up on charges of physically abusing employees; and later smuggling by members of the Hanjin owner family.

Hanjin said that her comeback was in line with the wishes of former Chairman Cho Yang-ho, who passed away in April in the midst of a police probe. It said that this was about harmony among members of the family.

The reinstatement of Hyun-min, a U.S. citizen also known as Emily, might result in family harmony, but some employees are seemingly not happy with this state of affairs.

The Jin Air trade union released a statement criticizing her return. Jin Air is a budget airline affiliated with Korean Air, the flagship unit of Hanjin Group as Korea’s top flag carrier.

Its aviation license was almost canceled for reasons related to Hyun-min – the airline was accused of violating a relevant law by appointing her, legally a non-Korean, as a board director.

The union suspected that the 35-year-old will try to remotely control Jin Air through her position at Hanjin KAL because the latter has a 60 percent stake in the former.

The sky is falling for 2,000 Jin Air employees because Cho has come back. We feel great indignation and frustration toward the owner family’s irresponsible attitude over the crisis at our company,” the union said.

All employees have tried their best to stop the license cancellation, but we have been facing government penalties for almost a year,” it said. “Cho’s return is a horrendous measure that is trampling on our hopes.”

Park Ju-gun, the head of corporate analysis firm CEO Score, also criticized Cho’s return.

Can an ordinary employee who hurt the corporate brand image just like Cho return to the company? It would be simply impossible. Then, why is it possible for Cho?” Park asked.

“Because the owner family regards companies as their private property, and thus ignores the rights of shareholders and stakeholders. Cho should resign.”


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The publisher studied Korean history in Seoul and management of business administration in the United Kingdom. He has 20-year experiences in the media business. Kim can be reached at voc200@gmail.com or 82-2-6956-6698.