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How a simple photo led to legal woes for top spokesmodel

How a simple photo led to legal woes for top spokesmodel

Posted January. 29, 2013 03:36,   


Korean actress Hwang Jeong-eum was one of the most in-demand models for commercials in 2009 when she starred in the popular TV sitcom “High Kick Through The Roof.” All of the products she promoted enjoyed brisk sales both online and offline, earning her the reputation of being a model whose endorsement would make a product sell out.

In November 2009, Hwang signed a six-month endorsement contract worth 70 million won (64,000 U.S. dollars) with the Korean importer of the Japanese fashion brand Egoist. She was to promote Egoist apparel and shoes exclusively over the contracted period under the “Hwang Jeong-eum line.” All of the products in the line were sold out.

In March 2010, she signed another exclusive modeling contract with Hazzys Accessories of LG Fashion for 150 million won (138,000 dollars) for six months to promote accessories such as bags, wallets and belts. The deal seemed harmless because her contract with Egoist covered just clothing and shoes.

LG Fashion, however, sued Hwang a month later after an ad in which she held an Egoist bag was spread online through news and portal websites. The actress was ordered to pay 320 million won (293,000 dollars) to LG in damages.

Hwang’s agency Core Contents Media subsequently filed a lawsuit against the Korean importer of Egoist for causing financial damage to Hwang by using the ad despite their contract excluding bags. A court ordered the importer to pay 259 million won (237,000 dollars) in damages to her, but she still lost about 60 million won (55,000 dollars).