$44K Fine For Man After Violent Inflight Yoga Incident

Open Jaw

He’s a man who takes his yoga seriously. Very seriously.

A Korean tourist who was arrested after he became violent when he wasn't allowed to do yoga on a plane won't get additional jail time. However, he must pay UA restitution of more than $44,000.

A federal judge in Honolulu on Thursday sentenced Hyongtae Pae to time served -- about 13 days. He'll be under court supervision for three years, the same amount of time he has to pay the fine.

Pae and his wife were celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary with a Hawaii vacation and the couple was headed home when he was arrested. According to court records, Pae didn't want to sit in his seat during the meal service on the March flight from HNL to HND, so he went to the back of the plane to do yoga and meditate.

Authorities say he refused to return to his seat, then threatened crew members and passengers and shoved his wife. The pilot subsequently turned the plane around and returned to HNL.

Court records say Pae threatened to kill passengers and was yelling that there is no god. He told authorities after his arrest that he hadn't slept in 11 days and went into a rage because he felt the flight crew was ordering him around.

U.S. District Judge Helen Gillmor agreed with prosecutors that Pae's actions constituted a violent felony. Because of that, it's possible he may never be allowed to return to the United States. Fine by me, says Pae, who is in his 70s and doesn't intend to travel to the U.S. in the future, said his defense attorney, Jin Tae "J.T." Kim.

"I think your client is getting off very easy," with the $44,235 restitution amount considering the costs of turning the plane around, including jet fuel and all the passengers who had to return to Honolulu, Gillmor said.

"I take this very seriously and I have a great deal of concern about this behaviour," she said. It was a traumatic experience for the passengers and the flight crew, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Jill Otake, adding that it's fortunate there were Marines on board who helped restrain him. Pae tried to bite and head-butt the Marines, prosecutors said.

Gillmor said Pae may return to home to Korea, but before he leaves must meet with a probation officer to work out restitution payments.

(will not be published)