Hanjin Group Chairman Cho Yang-ho died of a chronic disease in the U.S. on early April 8 (Korean time). He is 70 years old.
Cho was born in Incheon in 1949 as the eldest son of Hanjin Group founder Cho Joong-hoon. He has led Korean Air as a global airline since he joined Korean Air in 1974. He was named president of Korean Air in 1992, chairman of Korean Air in 1999 and chairman of Hanjin Group in 2003.
Analysts say that Cho has set the stage for the company to become a leading global airline, which was the flag carrier of South Korea, while in office.
During the 1997 foreign exchange crisis, the company overcame the liquidity crisis by selling its own aircraft and leasing them again. It purchased 27 Boeing 737 aircraft under favorable conditions at the peak of the 1998 foreign exchange crisis.
In 2003, Chairman Cho saw this period as an opportunity to introduce next-generation aircraft, and signed a contract to buy A380 aircraft, as the global aviation industry was still mired in a slump owing to the impact of the Iraq war and the September 11 terrorist attacks. In the end, the planes served as a catalyst for Korean Air's growth.
Korean Air saw its number of aircraft rise to 166, up from only eight when it was launched in 1969, while its international routes that operated only three Japanese cities expanded to 111 cities in 43 countries.
The number of international passenger flights increased 154 times, with annual passenger traffic growing 38 times and cargo traffic 538 times. Sales and assets increased by 3,500 times and 4,280 times, respectively.
Since 1996, Cho has served as a member of the Boards of Governors, the IATA's top policy review and voting body.
In recognition of his faithful role in helping the two countries have a close relationship as chairman of the Korea-France High-level Businessmen's Club, he was awarded the Légion d'Honneur Commandeur Medal from the French government in 2004 and the Légion d'Honneur Grand Officier, France's highest-profile medal, in 2015.
He headed the bidding committee for the 2009 PyeongChang Winter Olympics. For one year and 10 months, Chairman Cho traveled about 640,000 kilometers (16 laps of the globe) on 50 overseas trips. So far, about 100 of the 110 IOC members have met and appealed for support for PyeongChang.
Cho, however, failed to serve a second term as an in-house director at a recent regular shareholders' meeting of Korean Air. The National Pension Service opposed his second term amid controversy over procedures, and some civic groups also objected to it.