South Korean man who forced plane to make emergency landing after downing a bottle of whiskey and stepping on a child to propel himself at cabin crew is ordered to pay $172,000 to Hawaiian Airlines
- Kyong Chol Kim arrived in Hawaii on February 25 but didn’t have the documents
- He was held in a detention center for two days until the next flight to Incheon
- CBP accompanied him onto plane until door closed but he managed to get a bottle of whiskey from Duty Free and downed it in 45 minutes on the plane
- Kim was irritating a nine-year-old boy and stepped on his shoulder to launch himself at cabin crew who tried to calm him
- Crew told pilot they couldn’t continue service so plane returned after four hours
- The Seoul motel owner was arrested by FBI and had hearings in March
- Kim claims not to remember doing what he saw in a video clip from the incident
- He apologized and promised to pay Hawaiian Airlines $172,000
A man who downed a bottle of whiskey in 45 minutes then tried to propel himself toward a flight attendant by stepping on a nine-year-old boy’s shoulder during a flight to South Korea, has been ordered to pay the Hawaiian Airlines more than $172,000 after they were forced to return to Honolulu.
As well as having to pay the costs for accommodating passengers waiting for the plane in South Korea and returning to the airport, Kyong Chol Kim was sentenced Wednesday to six months in jail for interfering with some of 13 crew members on the flight on February 27.
The incident occurred after the Korean national had been refused entry by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol when he arrived in the country without proper documentation.
South Korean national was shouting around 263 passengers and 13 crew on the February 27 flight that had to turn around after four hours due to his unruly behavior
Prosecutors say the 48-year-old South Korean man was held at the Honolulu Federal Detention Center until the flight back to Incheon and accompanied by officials up until boarding but he was given the bottle of Ballantine as Duty Free purchases were being handed out at the plane door.
Witnesses say he polished off the alcohol before the Hawaiian Airlines Flight 459 beverages service had begun.
Some passengers on the plane carrying 263 people also said he bothered a child seated next him despite requests from the boy’s mother to stop speaking to him and touching him.
Prosecutors say he lunged at a flight attendant after the employee confronted him about his behavior.
Kim allegedly said he was ‘going to get’ her and thet ‘he’s a criminal and could cause trouble’.
He put his foot on the child’s left shoulder ‘in an attempt to propel himself’ at the cabin crew member who ‘became so scared she moved toward the front of the plane’.
After Kim started ‘yelling at the top of his lungs’ in English and Korean, flight attendants and some passengers helped restrain him with handcuffs.
Kim arrived in Hawaii on February 25 but didn’t have the documents so was held at the Honolulu Federal Detention Center for two days until flight to Incheon
Complaints said they ‘observed a very erratic and belligerent man’ and the pilot was forced to return to Oahu when attendants said they couldn’t do their jobs with Kim fighting to get out of his seatbelt and cuffs.
‘Hawaiian Airlines flight HA459 departed Honolulu for Incheon International Airport yesterday at 1 p.m. local time [6 p.m. EST] carrying 263 passengers and 13 crew,’ Hawaiian Airlines confirmed in a statement to Fox News.
‘Approximately four hours into the flight, the Captain made the decision to return to Honolulu due to an unruly passenger. Passengers briefly deplaned and HA459 departed HNL at 10:35 p.m. and arrived at ICN at 4:28 a.m. local time today [Thursday]. We apologize to our guests for the inconvenience.’
U.S. service members on board helped restrain Kim as the flight turned around and FBI agents arrested Kim upon landing. CBP agents and deputy sheriffs were also at the scene.
He appeared before Magistrate Judge Richard Puglisi the following day. A detention hearing was set for March 5 and a preliminary hearing was scheduled for March 13.
Kim was represented by public defender Sharron I. Rancourt.
U.S. District Judge Derrick K. Watson ordered Kim to spend six months in prison
In May Kim asked how long he might be banned from the US for and whether it included tourist visits.
But might have been the least of his concern as it was revealed his maximum sentence would be 20 years.
His Pretrial Services sentencing recommendation was to consider time served. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Ayabe agreed to making his sentence no longer than what it would be by time the trial ended in July.
But this week the judge said he was ‘really sick and tired of’ hearing of cases like Kim’s.
U.S. District Judge Derrick K. Watson said it was an occurrence for him roughly every six months and noted that Kim has a criminal history in the US.
Past offences include criminal property damage, possession of a stolen vehicle and sexual assault.
Kim owns a motel in Seoul that is believed to be worth more than the fine. Judge Watson said that the airline is unlikely to recoup losses after the incident.
He apologized via a translator but blamed his loss of control on the alcohol. He also claimed not to remember doing what he saw in a later video and was so exhausted he didn’t realize the drink was so strong.
He promised to pay the damages.