By Kim Kwang-tae
SEOUL, Aug. 7 (Yonhap) -- A U.S. guitarist has falsely accused Korean Air Lines Co. of damaging one of his guitars that was carried in the plane's cargo compartment last month, the top South Korean airline said Wednesday.
Korean Air said it has yet to decide what actions to take against 53-year-old Steven Vai for misleading people by suggesting that the carrier is to blame for the damage to the neck of his guitar.
The controversy stems from Vai's claim on his website (http://www.vai.co) that the guitar was damaged after being checked on a Korean Air flight to Japan from Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul.
However, a photo that Vai posted of the damaged guitar on his website was taken on July 28, one day before he left on the Korean Air flight that he claimed damaged his guitar, indicating it was physically impossible for the guitar to have been damaged by Korean Air.
Vai also did not use Korean Air when he arrived in Incheon from Beijing on July 27 to attend an annual rock festival in Ansan, about 40 kilometers south of Seoul, the next day.
On his website, Vai posted a photo of his musical gear being carted to the plane's cargo via tram, and complained that the airline hadn't hand-carried the equipment.
"They usually hand carry it and give it back by hand after the flight. Well, in the case of this airline, I think Korean air, the guitars went under the plane," Vai said on his site. "We actually have video of the gear getting thrown into the cart."
But digital data of the photo showed that the photo was taken by an iPhone at 1:33 p.m. on July 27, and its latitude and longitude coordinates were of a Beijing airport, according to Korean Air.
Digital cameras are equipped with a standard format for storing information on digital photo images, including the date and time the photo was taken as well as the information of its global positioning system, a satellite-based navigation system.
Vai also posted another photo of his damaged guitar and wrote a caption that reads, "After the flight this is what the neck on "Bo" looked like. Snap!"
GPS coordinates of the photo of the damaged guitar showed that it was taken near the venue of the rock festival in Ansan on July 28.
Attempts to reach Vai to seek comment were unsuccessful.