A court in Guam has sentenced a Korean Air passenger who pleaded guilty to fighting with a flight attendant after being refused a beer, to more than two years in prison. The court did, however, give lawyers a short time to assess whether he could serve it in home confinement instead of behind bars.
Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood on Tuesday gave Kwon Woo Sung a three-year sentence but gave him credit for the seven months he already served under house arrest and federal detention, The Pacific Daily News reported.
Kwon, a South Korean dentist, had pleaded guilty to interfering with flight crew members and attendants on an April flight from Seoul to Guam.
Kwon, who had consumed five beers in 35 minutes, was caught smoking a cigarette in the plane’s restroom. He went on to get in a fight with the flight attendant who refused to serve him another beer.
Five passengers jumped into action and helped tie him up until the plane landed about an hour later.
On Monday, as the trial was drawing to a close, Kwon and his 70-year-old mother, Yang Young Hwa, fell to their knees in tears, begging the judge for leniency.
Both Kwon’s mother and his psychiatrist were character witnesses during the trial.
According to Guam’s Pacific Daily News:
Kwon’s psychiatrist testified to treating Kwon for the past three years for mental and emotional issues, including anxiety, depression, anger issues and others.
Kwon expressed his remorse in testimony before the judge and in his apology letters to passengers, flight crew and Korean Air CEO. The letters were part of the 212 documents filed last week.
An attorney in South Korea also penned a letter that said Kwon may be charged with a crime when he returns home.
But there is no certainty that Kwon will be prosecuted in South Korea, Judge Tydingco-Gatewood said.
The chief judge said she learned a lot about the Korean culture in this case. She praised the local Korean community for supporting Kwon. As an example, two people who never even met him stepped in to be his third-party custodians. Many Koreans in Guam and in his hometown wrote letters asking the judge for leniency.
You don’t see much of that, Tydingco-Gatewood said of the Korean community’s response to Kwon’s case.