The former vice president of Korean Air and her mother are on trial after admitting that they illegally hired Filipino housekeepers.

In May last year, Lee Myung-hee, the wife of the recently deceased chairman of Korean Air Chang Yang-ho, and Cho Hyun-ah, 45, were accused of hiring about 20 Filipino housekeepers by pretending to employ them at the airline, The Korea Herald reported.

In a report by the Korea Joongang Daily, and an anonymous post in Blind, a corporate community app, the Cho family preferred to hire Filipinos so they could verbally abuse them in Korean and they could not understand them.

The post also claimed that a Korean Air branch in the Philippines recruited Filipinos and sent them to Korea as trainee airline workers, but when they arrived in Seoul they were sent to work as housekeepers.

On Thursday at the Seoul Central District Court, Cho and Lee admitted to the charges. Cho said she is reflecting on the wrongdoings she committed without being aware of the relevant laws.

“I hired Filipino maids for convenience as I worked while raising twins”, Cho said.

In Korea, only ethnic Koreans or immigrants through marriage can work as housekeepers. Prosecutors are seeking fines of 15 million Korean won (US$12,820) for Cho and 30 million won for Korean Air.

Read: Korean Air owners suspected of illegally hiring Filipinos