By Kim Se-jeong
Problems with passengers on the country's two major airlines ― such as sexual harassment of flight attendants, smoking and disturbances ― doubled last year, figures showed Sunday.
Korean Air said 246 violations were reported last year, up from 120 in 2013.
Asiana Airlines said 51 cases were reported between January and November, as against 16 cases during the same period in 2013.
The data comes amid public uproar over misbehavior by Heather Cho, a former Korean Air vice president, and singer Bobby Kim.
Cho was indicted last week on charges of violating the Aviation Safety and Security Law and instructing colleagues to destroy evidence. She allegedly assaulted two flight attendants for serving nuts in a bag instead of on a plate, and ordered the pilot to return to the gate to evict the chief flight attendant. If found guilty, Cho could face up to 15 years in jail.
An investigation into a singer Bobby Kim is the latest case involving a celebrity.
On Jan. 7, Kim, 41, allegedly disrupted a flight and sexually harassed a female flight attendant on a flight from Incheon to San Francisco.
He is accused of touching the flight attendant's waist and arm and asking for the name of her hotel and her phone number. Federal Bureau of Investigation officers and airport security officials questioned Kim after he was escorted from the plane. He is expected to be questioned again when he returns to Korea.
According to the Aviation Safety and Security Law, using abusive language, singing loudly, smoking, harming others, sexually harassment, and attacking or threatening passengers and flight attendants can result in up to five years in jail and fines of up to 20 million won.
According to the airline companies, smoking was the most frequent problem. Last year alone, 190 cases were reported to Korean Air. Asiana Airlines had 45 cases.
Using abusive language was the second most frequent problem, with 29 cases on Korean Air flights and five on Asiana flights.
Assault was third most frequent violation, with 12 cases on Korean Air flights and two on Asiana flights.