Pilots had to turn a plane around that was heading from Honolulu to Japan after a man who wanted to perform yoga, instead of sitting in his seat, began attacking fellow passengers.
Authorities charged Hyongtae Pae, 72, “with interference with the performance of a flight crew.” He caused the incident only 90 minutes into the flight.
Pae refused to remain in his seat when the flight attendants attempted to hand out the in-flight meal. Witnesses said he “screamed at them in Korean and became violent.” He pushed his wife on several occasions.
“While yoga and meditation can be beneficial activities, it doesn’t negate the need to obey flight crew instructions while in the air,” explained FBI Special Agent Tom Simon. “The fact that the defendant’s alleged misconduct caused the flight to be turned around in the air gives you an idea of the seriousness of this situation.”
He told the flight crew he had not slept for eleven days.
“I guess that’s why he wanted to do some yoga, to calm himself down,” said defense attorney Jin Tae Kim.
The flight crew asked other passengers, including five Marines, to help restrain Pae. He “threatened to kill” one of the people placing him in restraints and “tried to head-butt and bite one of the Marines.” Pae also threatened to kill other passengers and screamed, “God does not exist.”
The FBI questioned Pae and his wife back in Honolulu. They claimed not to know it was illegal to disobey the flight crew.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Darren Ching said authorities should not release Pae “because he’s a danger to his wife, himself and others.” He said the man “urinated on himself and was on suicide watch at the Honolulu Federal Detention Center.”
Pae was released on a $25,000 bond from U.S. Magistrate Judge Kevin Chang. He said Pae must stay on Oahu and undergo “a mental health evaluation.” Pae cannot go home to Korea since “that would involve getting on a plane again.”
Kim said Pae and his wife traveled to Hawaii for the first time to celebrate their 40th anniversary. Pae was formerly a farmer in Korea.
Pae’s wife remains at the Waikiki Gateway Hotel. Kim told the media he is in touch “with the consulate to transfer more money to Pae’s wife and find alternate, temporary housing.”
Pae faces 20 years in prison if found guilty.