May 24, 2024

Advertisers pressured to boycott Lee Kang-in

PUBLISHED : February 20, 2024 - 09:32

UPDATED : February 20, 2024 - 10:02

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A pedestrian passes by a promotional poster featuring Lee Kang-in for the Samsung Galaxy S24 at a KT branch in Seoul, Sunday. (Yonhap)

Several advertisers are facing pressure to cancel their contracts with South Korean soccer star Lee Kang-in, following the 23-year-old’s alleged discord with national soccer team captain Son Heung-min.

According to industry officials on Monday, some companies intending to feature the Paris Saint-Germain midfielder in their advertisements are reevaluating their decisions, while others are considering whether to suspend existing contracts.

Chicken chain Alachi, which Lee has represented since January 2023, has recently faced criticism in the wake of the controversy surrounding Lee’s altercation with Son on the eve of the Asian Cup semifinals. Lee is believed to have engaged in a dispute with Son when he insisted on playing table tennis with teammates instead of joining Son for internal discussions before the ill-fated game against Jordan.

Users have flooded the company’s official Instagram page with comments that include: "Remove Lee Kang-in from the ads" and "I'll boycott the brand if they continue with him." When asked about continuing with Lee, an official from Alachi said the company is now considering other options as Lee's contract nears its end.

Telecom giant KT, which renewed its contract with Lee in January in what is now a six-year relationship, also finds itself in a challenging position. KT recently uploaded a promotional video depicting Lee’s daily life in Paris to its official YouTube channel, which drew a barrage of criticism for Lee in the comments section.

While leaving the YouTube video available, KT has removed promotional materials featuring Lee for the Samsung Galaxy S24 series from its store locations nationwide, citing the conclusion of the promotional campaign.

"We have not reached a decision on the replacement or alteration of the model. There’s no official statement from the company,” a KT official said.

Meanwhile, SPC Group bakery chain Paris Croissant, which entered into a partnership agreement with Paris Saint-Germain in November, said it will continue its contract with the French soccer club.

“We partnered with Paris Saint-Germain due to the domestic fandom for the club’s world-renowned soccer players,” said an official from SPC Group. “While some Paris Croissant branches have put aside promotional posters featuring Lee, the company has no intention of engaging in the controversy surrounding him.”

Paris Croissant has retained Lee’s picture and promotional materials on its official website.

By Hwang Joo-young (

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