A bag of macadamia nuts could cost four South Korean officials their jobs, with punishment promised by investigators after an incident with a former Korean Air Lines executive, who forced a flight to return to the gate because of the way her snack was served.
The punishments could include dismissals, salary reductions or formal reprimands, according to Shin Eun-chul, the official who headed the ministry's internal investigation.
Earlier this month, Korean Air executive and company heiress Cho Hyun-ah resigned as head of in-flight service after she forced a plane to return to the gate because she had been served nuts in a bag, not on a plate.
Park Chang-jin, the flight attendant who made the error, was ejected from the plane before it finally took off.
The Korean Transport Ministry has been under fire following revelations that some officials leaked information and committed other improper acts during the investigation.
One of the officials to be reviewed for punishment was arrested Friday over allegations that he leaked information about the ministry's probe to a current Korean Air executive, surnamed Yeo, through several telephone conversations and text messages.
The ministry found other officials responsible for allowing Yeo to attend the ministry's questioning of the flight attendant forced off the plane and failing to interview other first-class passengers, one of whom who told prosecutors that Cho had assaulted and threatened the flight attendant.
A Seoul court is expected to decide Tuesday whether to issue an arrest warrant for Cho, who resigned as vice president at the airline earlier this month amid mounting public criticism over the incident.
Prosecutors are also seeking to arrest Yeo over suspicions that he pressured airline employees to cover up the incident.
Korean Air chairman Cho Yang-ho has apologised for her daughter's behaviour.
The Transport Ministry plans to report Cho for breach of aviation safety laws, but courts are still debating the issue of an arrest warrant.