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FBI: Man arrested after doing yoga, meditating on flight from Hawaii

  • STAR-ADVERTISER / JUNE 17, 2011

    United Airlines ticket agents process passengers at Honolulu Airport.

A Japan-bound airplane returned to Hawaii because of a violent passenger who wanted to do yoga instead of sit in his seat, the FBI said.

The pilot of the March 26 United Airlines flight from Honolulu International Airport to Narita International Airport turned the plane around after hearing that Hyongtae Pae was yelling at crew members and shoving his wife, the FBI said in a criminal complaint.

Pae told the FBI he didn’t want to sit in his seat during the meal service, so he went to the back of the plane to do yoga and meditate. He became angry when his wife and flight attendants told him to return to his seat. “Pae pushed his wife because she was trying to make him stop,” the complaint said. “He felt that she was siding with the flight crew.”

He tried to head-butt and bite Marines who were passengers on the flight and tried to force him back to his seat, Assistant U.S. Attorney Darren Ching said at Pae’s detention hearing Wednesday.

According to the complaint, he threatened to kill passengers and was yelling that there is no god.

Pae went into a rage because he felt the flight crew was ordering him around, Ching said.

Ching said Pae shouldn’t be released because he’s a danger to his wife, himself and others. Pae urinated on himself and was on suicide watch at the Honolulu Federal Detention Center, Ching said.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Kevin Chang ordered that Pae be released on $25,000 bond, but with certain conditions including not leaving the island of Oahu and undergoing a mental health evaluation.

Since the arrest, Pae’s wife has been staying at the Waikiki Gateway Hotel, defense attorney Jin Tae “J.T.” Kim told the judge, who asked whether Pae had financial resources to continue staying there after his release. Kim said he’s working with the consulate to transfer more money to Pae’s wife and find alternate, temporary housing.

Chang denied Kim’s request to allow Pae to return home to Korea, because that would involve getting on a plane again.

Outside of court, Kim said his client is a 72-year-old retired farmer who traveled from South Korea to celebrate his 40th wedding anniversary with a Hawaii vacation. It was the couple’s first trip to Hawaii.

Pae only recently took up yoga to help with anxiety, Kim said, adding that he was sleep-deprived during the vacation. Pae told the FBI he hadn’t been able to sleep in 11 days.

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  • Early onset of Alzheimers? Oh, and way to go, SA, publicizing where Mrs. Pae is staying. Really, how relevant is that to the story? This poor woman deserves some privacy and safe harbor from her husband who could somehow be released on some technicality unbeknownst to her. Whoever included that in this story, and the editor that approved it, need to walk a mile in this woman’s shoes. Whatever happened to common sense?

      • It appears this elderly Korean tourist is in the midst of a manic episode, which usually resolves promptly with proper treatment.

        Hawaii sees a significant number of such cases due to the stress and excitement associated with taking a big vacation, interference with sleep due to changing time zones – especially coming from west to east, with trouble getting to sleep in Hawaii and then waking before one’s internal clock is ready to. There are numerous other sources of stress when traveling, especially where language and culture are unfamiliar.

        Finally, some people develop early symptoms of mania at home, and this causes then to make an impulsive, often poorly planned trip, then they get worse due to the travel stress mentioned above.

        Ever since judges and courts took control of these situations away from physicians, ostensibly to protect patient rights, mentally ill persons become “defendants” instead. This man is at the mercy of knowledge lawyers, clerks, prison guards and a judge who will control his fate and may only evaluate his case once every few weeks. Tens of thousands of our tax dollars will be spent on his case, and he may not even get proper care.

        Unnecessary suffering, psychological and physical abuse and tragic outcomes can occur without proper care, particularly in the context of an ill-equipped jail/prison rather than a psychiatric facility.

        This is called “the criminalization of the mentally ill”, and it has been getting worse for decades here and throughout the nation.

  • Please save taxpayer money on our own criminals. Send this one to Pyongyang with a sign draped around his neck saying, “Kim Jong Un is an overweight pig.”

  • I believe the pre-existing issues may be caused by a chemical imbalance (medical condition) and hope everything can be sorted out and treatment provided for the safety of the individual and his wife. Those who have had to deal with same will understand…it’s a tough situation to deal with…sad.

    • What “pre-existing issues”? What “chemical imbalance (medical condition)”? The guy is just an old, ornery, mean, selfish idi*ot. Put him in jail for a while to teach him a lesson.

      • I meant there could be a pre-existing condition (known or unknown) that is brought about by a chemical imbalance that can affect an individual’s behavior (i.e. pituitary gland) and is treatable. Some related studies; DOD therapeutic doses of fish oil (Omega 3) to treat depression; John Hopkins to use pre-existing epileptic Rx to treat Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) / Dementia in addition a pre-existing stroke Rx to simply increase capillary blood flow to improve brain network activity. Hence, the treatmentis to stabilize a chemical imbalance. However, you “first” need to properly diagnose, which is sometimes not done,and then treat then it takes time. Without proper diagnosis some may “armchair” inappropriate behavior. For example, being elderly, selfish or an idiot without knowing the details…which may follow. Again, there are many who have to dealt (successfully) with those who needed and got help…just saying.

        • Yes, could also be dementia or other cause of cognitive impairment, including numerous medical problems. Good thing or federal dollars are being used to lock him up at the federal jail rather than a hospital that can efficiently and compassionately help him, at cost to him or the Korean consulate. Thanks lawyers and judges. You guys are so wise and good and cost-effective at making a more just society. We’re so lucky to have you and the politicians in charge rather that those incompetent doctors.

  • The headline made it look like a funny story, but this is sad. Hope he gets the treatment he needs. Feel sorry for his wife, the flight crew, and the other passengers.

    • Under certain conditions or circumstances (usually bad) it is possible to go without sleep for many days. Extreme sleep deprivation may induce someone to hallucinate or can result in a state mimicking psychosis to a remarkable degree. In the old Soviet Union under “Uncle Joe” Stalin, keeping prisoners awake was, in fact, a preferred method of torture. It left no telltale marks and avoided nasty unpleasantries such as applications of electric shock to the genitals, fingernail pulling, extinguishing lit cigarettes on the eyeballs, and that old standby, smacking the soles of the feet with a rubber hose. Sleep deprivation worked so well in obtaining signed confessions (a mother could be made to denounce her own children if kept awake long enough) that it eventually made its way to such recent vacation getaways as Abu Ghraib. It’s uncertain why he wasn’t getting enough sleep but yes, Hyongtae Pae’s behavior might benefit from a few hours of undisturbed shuteye.

      • The FBI uses that technique during hostage sieges too. During Waco they used loops of screaming rabbits and various songs. Oddly enough, Barry Manilow songs were considered by the feds to be “excessive force”

    • 11 days without sleep? Shoulda just gone to Urgent Care Clinic in Waikiki, got some chill pills. No need yoga, jail cell, pee on self, etc.

    • Eleven days without sleep is the current record that dates back to 1964. In 2012 a 26-year-old Chinese stayed up for 11 days and then died in his sleep. This 72-year-old guy wasn’t up for 11 days straight. At some point while awake, he probably checked out Wikipedia though.

  • Married 40 years to that guy?! Lady should’ve considered herself lucky that he was arrested, returned to South Korea, tossed his belongings into the street, and changed the locks on the doors. If he’ll act that way just because he was told to return to his seat, I’m sure there are MANY more irrational, abusive acts on his part for equally minor reasons.

  • I would have been really upset that the plane had to turn around because of this perp. They should have secured him and throw him in the luggage hold. He can chill out down there. 11 days of no sleep? Good luck with that excuse.

  • Why returned to Honolulu? Just tie him up or give a sedative shot. Then let the Japanese deal with him. I can imagine how upset the other passengers were.

  • The way this headline reads one would think this guy wasn’t doing anything wrong. I can see him meditating but yoga on a plane? Just another entitlement person who wants their way, and he was an old guy!

  • Sounds like this guy had some kind of mental breakdown which has not been diagnosed. Not sure releasing him on bond is a good idea. The court should have ordered that he undergo
    a mental evaluation before agreeing to free him on bond given his bizarre behavior on the plane.

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