An unruly passenger on a Hawaiian Airlines flight to Korea allegedly stepped on a 9-year-old boy seated next to him as he lunged at flight attendants, according to a criminal complaint filed Thursday in U.S. District Court.
FBI agents arrested Kyong Chol Kim Wednesday night after Hawaiian Airlines Flight 459, carrying 263 passengers, returned to Oahu. He appeared Thursday before Magistrate Judge Richard Puglisi who set a detention hearing for March 5 and a preliminary hearing for March 13.
On Monday, the Korean national had been refused entry by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol when he arrived in Honolulu without proper documentation. He was held at the Honolulu Federal Detention Center until the next available flight back to Incheon on Wednesday, court records show.
Customs agents accompanied him to his Korea-bound flight and remained with him until the plane’s door closed, but a duty-free worker boarded the plane and handed Kim a package with a bottle of Ballantine whisky, the complaint said. Passengers on board said they saw Kim finish the bottle before flight attendants began their regular service about 45 to 50 minutes into the flight.
The complaint said Kim repeatedly spoke to and touched the child next to him on the shoulder, despite pleas by the boy’s mother to stop bothering her son. When a flight attendant asked Kim to leave the boy alone, he began yelling in Korean that he was “going to get” her. He reportedly put his foot on the child’s left shoulder “in an attempt to propel himself” toward the attendant, who “became so scared she moved toward the front of the plane.”
Kim, 47, then began “yelling at the top of his lungs” in English and Korean, prompting attendants and a number of passengers to handcuff him, according to the complaint. The pilot was notified and “observed a very erratic and belligerent man” fighting against the seat belt and the flex cuffs and yelling to be let loose. That’s when the crew said they couldn’t continue to work with Kim on the flight and the plane returned to Honolulu.
The plane was met in Honolulu by FBI and Customs and Border Protection agents, and deputy sheriffs. FBI agents arrested the man and transported him to the Federal Detention Center.