8 Korean stars ‘cancelled’ after scandals: Seo Ye-ji was dropped from K-drama Island, while Ji Soo left River When the Moon Rises – and may be sued for US$2.7 million

Seo Ye-ji, AOA’s Seolhyun and TVXQ’s Yunho were all dropped from projects following scandals. Photos: Netflix, FNC Entertainment, SM Entertainment
South Korea is notorious for expecting its idols to have spotless personal records. So when actors get involved in messy divorces, drunk driving, bullying or other scandals, it’s not unusual for the brands they endorsed to unceremoniously cut ties, or for TV shows they starred in to replace them. Even if the accusations aren’t proven, companies take drastic steps in pre-emptive damage control, quickly distancing themselves from any negative impressions.

There have been rumours that married celebrities get served “divorce clauses” in their acting series contracts, where they will supposedly pay a fine if they get divorced while the show is still airing.

Here’s a list of Korean celebrities who’ve been involved in scandals recently, and lost a brand, drama or film deal as a result …

Seo Ye-ji

Seo Ye-ji’s reputation has been shaken by a number of scandals in recent weeks. Photo: @seoyeajiluv/Instagram.
The It’s Okay Not to Be Okay actress’ reputation has been tarnished by a slew of scandals recently; she’s been accused of school bullying and staff abuse, among other controversies.
Box office sales for her most recent project Recalled, which Korean local cinemas this week, seem to be doing well – although Seo skipped out on a press conference for the film. However, Korea JoongAng Daily reports that Seo will be replaced in the new drama Island. She has also lost endorsement deals with companies like health and beauty brand Inner Flora, mask brand Aer, Korean cosmetic brand Luna and sunglasses label Rieti.

Ji Soo

Tall, dark and handsome, and causing scandals: K-drama actor Ji Soo. Photo: @actor_jisoo/Instagram

The tall, dark and handsome leading man has recently made headlines with accusations of school bullying as well as sexual harassment. As a result, he had to drop River When the Moon Rises, where he was the lead, while it was still running. According to Soompi, the drama production company is even suing him and his agency for 3 billion won (US$2.7 million) worth of damages.


April’s Naeun

Naeun from April. Photo: DSP Media

The K-pop idol was also accused of school bullying, as well as bullying a bandmate. She ended up leaving the cast of SBS’ Taxi Driver, with her replacement reshooting all of her scenes.

AOA’s Seolhyun

Seolhyun. Photo: @sh_9513/Instagram
This time, the accusations involve being an inactive bystander and something of an enabler, rather than a bully directly. Ex-AOA member Mina accused bandmate Jimin of mistreating her for years, while Seolhyun supposedly knew about it, but did nothing to stop it.

The singer-actress kept her role in Day and Night despite calls for her to be cut from the series, but her reputation remains tarnished; her recent video interview with Vogue was criticised by viewers and subsequently taken down from its YouTube channel.

TVXQ’s Yunho

Yunho from TVXQ. Photo: SM Entertainment
The veteran K-pop idol was accused of visiting an illegal escort bar as well as violating Covid-19 social distancing rules. The scandal led to him being removed from advertisements by the likes of food manufacturing company Ottogi and food delivery app Yogiyo.

Ahn Jae-hyun

K-drama stars Ahn Jae-hyun and Koo Hye-sun. Photo: TVN
In 2019, the actor divorced Boys Over Flowers actress Koo Hye-sun. The proceedings were public and messy, and his endorsements with brands like Merbliss and Giordano were discontinued. He was also kicked off the variety show New Journey to the West.

Song Joong-ki

K-drama star Song Joong-ki. Photo:
In one of the most heartbreaking Hallyu divorces, the actor called it quits with Descendants of the Sun co-star Song Hye-kyo. There were rumours that brands stopped signing deals with the actor as he was heavily criticised for his role in the break-up.

BigBang’s Seungri

Seungri from BigBang. Photo: SM Entertainment

The only active BigBang member for a few years, in 2018 Seungri was focused on solo promotional activities, like appearing on variety shows and going on international tours. He signed his first solo endorsement that year, becoming the face for Tinder in Korea.

However, in 2019 he got caught up in one of the biggest sex, drugs and corruption scandals in recent K-pop history – the Burning Sun scandal. He has now officially retired from the entertainment industry.

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  • Vogue removed AOA’s Seolhyun’s interview from YouTube after the K-pop idol was accused of enabling bandmate Jimin’s bullying of ex-member Mina
  • Song Joong-ki was blamed for his divorce from Song Hye-kyo, while ex-BigBang member Seungri retired completely after the Burning Sun scandal