After “You Who Came From The Stars,” starring Kim Soo Hyun and Jun Ji Hyun, became so popular in China that the actors received a variety of endorsement deals.
In the last year the actor got so many commercial offers, he was named the “king of commercials. He not only filmed 15 commercials in South Korea, but set a new record modeling in 35 different countries. He was especially sought after in China, where he and Jun Ji Hyn did an ad for the Chinese bottled water maker Hengda Group.
Controversy about the source of the water caused the actors to ask that their contracts be cancelled and rumors immediately began to spread that they would be fined a multi-million dollar penalty. Munhwa Ilbo reported that the actors might pay penalties as high as $5 million each.
But according to KeyEast, the agency representing Kim Soo Hyun, no penalty has thus far been assigned. The agency said such claims are just speculation. “Since we requested a revocation of the contract on June 20, we haven’t received a statement or a reply from the advertiser,” Keyeast Entertainment, told The Daily Sports on June 24. “It can be seen as part of the process for reaching an amicable settlement,”
The actors decided to cancel the contract after some Koreans noted that the mineral water listed its source as “Jang Bai Shan,” rather than calling the mountain by its Korean name, “Mount Baekdusan.”
Mount Baekdusan, located on the border between China and North Korea, has long been a source of conflict between South Korea and China. Mount Baekdushan has symbolic significance for the Korean people as it is considered the place the Korean people originated. It is considered a sacred mountain. To the Chinese, the mountain is an important part of their history.
A Chinese academic project known as “Northeast Project” stresses that northeastern China including the early Korean kingdoms of Koguryeo, have always really been part of China. Naming the mountain Jang Bai Shan claims the mountain as part of Chinese history and the renaming has met with much protest from Korean groups.
For Kim Soo Hyun and Jun Ji Hyun to endorse the product makes it seem as if they side with the Chinese interpretation of Korean history. It is obvious they did not realize that the bottles would be labeled this way. But whether the company will agree to the cancellation of their contracts without a huge penalty remains to be seen.