The Korea Herald


Retail industries rush to cut ties with Yoo Ah-in

By Lee Yoon-seo

Published : Feb. 15, 2023 - 15:52

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A Musinsa promotional poster prominently features Yoo Ah-in (Musinsa) A Musinsa promotional poster prominently features Yoo Ah-in (Musinsa)

The Korean retail industry is busy preparing measures to erase actor Yoo Ah-in from their brands' promotions, after the actor tested positive for marijuana use and became embroiled in an open drug test investigation for the illegal use of propofol.

Musinsa, the largest online fashion platform in Korea by sales, told The Korea Herald that the company is currently reviewing the termination of its brand model contracts with the actor.

"With the investigation currently underway, we first decided to limit (Yoo Ah-in's) public exposure considering the impact on the corporate image," said an official from Musinsa. "We are comprehensively considering future countermeasures, including termination of his contract with us as a brand muse."

Yoo had been selected by Musinsa as the face of the brand in 2021.

The fashion platform had also launched an artificial intelligence-based model of Yoo, called "MU Ah In," in a bid to expand its virtual shopping experience. However, currently all images of Yoo have been removed across Musinsa's services including the AI model, the company's social media, promotional campaigns and the platform's main website.

Musinsa is one of many companies cutting ties with Yoo.

Yoo also represented major Korean food manufacturer Ottogi and local outdoor brand Nepa, however, all such promotional videos, advertisements and posters featuring Yoo have now been removed.

Korean drugmaker Chong Kun Dang, which also used Yoo as the main face for its vitamin brand I'm Vita, removed all photos related to Yoo from its website, YouTube channel and KakaoTalk gift channels.

The controversy has also affected Yoo Ah-in's professional relationships abroad.

Chinese fashion brand Croquis also issued a statement through China's microblogging platform Weibo that the company has "zero tolerance" when it comes to drug use and that until the Korean police announces the results of the various investigations, the company will temporarily be taking down all content related to Yoo, who had been involved in an advertisement campaign for the company.

Experts say that the recent drug case that Yoo became embroiled in is likely to result in penalty lawsuits, as advertising contracts usually include clauses for representatives to compensate the company if they cause social controversy or damage the corporate image. Models could pay penalties two to three times that which they received for the advertisements.

The recent crisis with Yoo follows the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency's drug investigation unit calling in Yoo on Feb. 6 to question him over the use of propofol for nonmedical purposes, a violation of the Narcotics Control Act in Korea.

On Friday, Yoo's urine sample came back positive for cannabis, classified as an illegal drug here, and police are currently awaiting results from his hair sample for possible additional detection of other drugs.