Jang Dong-gun

Korean actor Jang Dong-gun. [TenAsia/ Paeng Hyun-joon]

Some of hottest Korean stars have lost a class suit against Seoul’s plastic surgeon for using their names and photos online under false pretence.

On January 9, Seoul Central District Court ruled against the plaintiff, which was 35 Korean celebrities including Jang Dong-gun, Song Hye-kyo, Kim Nam-gil, BoA, Girls’ Generation members Jessica and Tiffany, who filed the lawsuit last January.

“In Korea, we have increasing number of publicity disputes such as using celebrities’ names or photos in advertisements, which increased the necessity of establishing new concept of publicity rights,” said the justice department.

“However, considering the circumstances that we don’t have positive law nor definite common law about the publicity right, we can’t allow only by its necessity since it is exclusive and closed property rights. We can only approved the publicity right when the legal ground has been set with it.”

The department added that, “Although the publicity right is acknowledged, the photos have been uploaded in the different category from a category about promotion of the plastic surgeon, which is hard to be regarded as they earned profit from the photos. It is also hard to be seen as arrogating the plaintiff’s portrait rights and name right.”

On January 7 last year, the Seoul Central District Court received an official complaint from the stars who argued that a plastic surgery hospital located in Seoul should compensate them for a total of 120 million won [approximately 113,000 U.S. dollar] for using their images for commercial purposes without their permission.

Reporter. Cory Lee
Photographer. Paeng Hyun-joon pangpang@tenasia.co.kr