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By Alex Johnson
LOS ANGELES – The chairman and chief executive of Korean Air, whose lawsuits and colorful daughters – had kept him and the airline in an undesirable spotlight, died on Sunday, the airline said.
Cho under suspicion of embezzlement and indictment in South Korea After channeling lucrative contracts into his family's businesses, he died in a hospital in Los Angeles from a condition the airline did not identify.
Cho was ousted by Korean Air's board last month when the scandal erupted. He retained his office as chairman and chief executive of the airline and its parent company, the Hanjin Group.
But it was scandals involving his daughters, who interested Cho and his family worldwide – one that involved macadamia nuts and the other a water bottle.
In December 2014, his daughter Cho Hyun-ah, a vice president of the company known in the West as Heather Cho, caused a viral storm when she caused a tantrum after a flight attendant on a Korean Air flight served her a portion of Macadamia nuts in a bag instead of a bowl in first class.
Cho Hyun-ah ordered the aircraft to return to the gate of New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, which led to a delay. She apologized and served five months in a South Korean jail sentence for obstructing air safety.
Last year, Cho's younger daughter, Cho Hyun-min, also vice president of the company, was charged in Seoul, South Korea, charged with business impediment after she was accused of having blamed an advertising man for water at a meeting in England.
Cho Hyun-min, known in the West as Emily Cho, told the police that she had dumped an empty glass. Not with the advertiser because she thought she was being ignored during her conversation ,
Both sisters retired from Korean Air last year when their father tried to save the airline's reputation.
"As chairman of Korean Air, I feel as terrible as a father about the immature actions of my daughters," Cho said in a statement. "Everything is my fault and my misconduct, I apologize to the people."
Korean Air, in its Sunday statement, in which Cho was named a "aviation pioneer" whose "leadership" was widely recognized, did not mention the family's difficulties over the years.
Cho was the first president of the Organizing Committee for the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, but resigned in 2016 to focus on his company's problems, and the games were generally considered a success.
his wife, Myung-hee Lee, survived a son, Walter, and five grandchildren.
Korean Air's stock rose more than 2 percent on Monday in South Korea.