After a bizarre incident aboard a Korean Air flight from Hong Kong to Seoul involving K-pop fans, the Seoul-based carrier announced it will add a new penalty for passengers who cancel their flights after January 1st.
The penalty will be an additional KRW200,000 (USD $177), for any cancellation made after passing through the departure gate. The new fees will be added to the current penalties on Korean Air network flights that range between KRW50000-120000 (USD $44-106).
The new additional penalties after three fans of the popular Korean music group Wanna One booked fully-refundable tickets and boarded a flight with the band onboard following a performance in Hong Kong on December 15. The three fans proceeded to take photos with the band before the jet was to depart, disobeying flight attendant instructions to return to their seats. The trio then asked for a refund and requested to leave the flight, which according to the airline were given a partial refund. A report from the Beijing Youth Daily stated the trio were also levied an undisclosed fee to Hong Kong Airport for the delayed flight.
While the three fans got their photos, the rest of the 360 passengers were forced to disembark per Hong Kong’s aviation laws and go through a security check again– delaying the departure by over an hour. Korean Air would eventually compensate the affected passengers.
The recent incident aboard the Korean Air flight is not new regarding K-pop fans and the travel of their favorite stars. Beijing Capital Airport reported several incidents in 2018 of fans attempting to see their favorite K-pop stars, to the point of getting to first class cabins for pictures. It is also not uncommon at Korean airports such as Incheon and Gimpo to see large groups of fans looking to catch a glimpse of their favorite stars before and after their travels. In Korean culture, the often obsessive fans have been referred to as "sasaeng," who have drawn the ire of even loyal fans of popular Korean music groups.