Scandal Fallout Dichotomy: Nescafe Replaces Lee Byung Hun with Suzy while Lotte Keeps Kim Hyun Joong

It was a really rocky year in K-pop just based on the few unexpected events that were so big even I took notice of it, much less if a myriad of smaller scandals were added to it. On the K-acting side the biggest scandals were the one-two punch (no pun intended) of the Kim Hyun Joong alleged assault case followed by the Lee Byung Hun maybe affair-definitely blackmail case. The former was resolved before going to trial though a police report was filed by Kim Hyun Joong’s ex-girlfriend for repeated instances where he physically assaulted her.

The latter has the blackmail case going to court and still being tried against the two ladies accused of blackmailing top star Lee Byung Hun over a dirty talk recording, with their defense being he was having an extra-marital affair with one of the ladies which went south. Readers of both cases have expressed sentiments of either (1) I believe and support oppa! or (2) ewwww, I will never ever watch his work ever again. It’s interesting to note how their various endorsements have shaken out since the scandal – Lee Byung Hun’s huge Nescafe gig ended and Suzy‘s face hilariously stickered over the package while Lotte is sticking with Kim Hyun Joon and he recently filmed new promos.

I find it hilarious that Nescafe didn’t even want to wait to finish up the existing stock that had Lee Byung Hun’s face on the package and instead went to great awkward lengths to stick Suzy’s face via an ill-fitting sticker right on top of Lee Byung Hun. It’s an ignominious insult towards him for sure since he’s been a face of Nescafe for years, but clearly Nescafe has decided it was worth burning bridges. And based on Lee Byung Hun’s clout, and he has a major Hollywood blockbuster Terminator sequel coming out soon, the industry and public will likely forget his transgression soon and move on.

As for Kim Hyun Joong, he’s just one of many Hallyu celebrity endorsers for Lotte Duty Free stores which caters to the international traveler pocket book. I distinctly recollect that Kim Hyun Joong’s fanbase outside of Korea was very much on his side during the fall out period and didn’t believe a word of his accuser that he hit her (i.e. she made it all up), or excusing if he did hit her as she asked for it (or something along those lines, I can’t rationally condense complete fantasy excuses from fans). Lotte is basically hewing to the rationale that if Kim Hyun Joong’s fanbase still supports him then it’s worth keeping him on as an endorsement model since that was their target audience anyways. Stay classy, Lotte!


Scandal Fallout Dichotomy: Nescafe Replaces Lee Byung Hun with Suzy while Lotte Keeps Kim Hyun Joong — 41 Comments

  1. So if you assault and crack your girlfriend’s ribs you get to keep your endorsement deal. But if you try to pick up a woman who’s not wife, and as a consequence is blackmailed, you are dropped like yesterday’s garbage?

    It’s a lopsided world.

      • True that…From what I see in dramas…which I assume is the korean culture…beating people is normal…
        We see it in every drama…parents are always hitting their kids and even in front of everybody and no one is outraged…so I guess that’s why Kim Hyung Joon’s case is not a big deal for them I guess…Really twisted.

        In America, it will be the other way around. KHJ’s a** will be roting in jail by now with the evidence that the girl allegedly presented and Lee Byun hun’s case would be a non story, cause we’ve seen worse here with our celebrities. Tiger Woods anyone?

      • @sogazelle: I can’t comment on what Korean culture really is, but I read elsewhere that Koreans were outraged by KHJ’s behavior because they don’t condone hitting women – the role of men is to protect their woman and their family. As for hitting kids, it’s perhaps seen as a form of discipline provided it doesn’t cross the thin line to abuse.

    • This is far from LBH’s 1st scandal, mostly related to his, err, sexual “behavior”. The Nescafé higher-ups might have seen this latest event as the straw that broke the camel’s back, since he is supposed to have wisen up after getting married. Yeah, like that would change anything BTS, but his image has suffered way too much, endangering the brand. What else? [<— dixit George]

      • “…but image has suffered way too much, endangering the brand.”

        Obviously, that’s not the mystery. The mystery is why someone who send his girlfriend to the hospital is not seen as endangering Lotte’s brand. How is this guy not in jail?

      • Because he offered his apology to said girlfriend, who accepted them and drop the charges. I am not saying whether it is wrong or right, just stating the facts. Hence, perhaps in the Korean eye, he has redeemed himself, since it was his first-time.

      • It’s probably a cultural thing. In my own country the justice system works differently. The police runs investigations. You can’t escape indictment by apologizing. And a clear-cut assault case like this one would result in some kind of jail time.

        It will be interesting to see if his next girlfriend gets the same treatment.

      • I think Miss Koala could weigh in, but I’m positive that prosecutors could still go after him, if they wanted to. Only civil charges were dropped, AFAIK.

    • @sogazelle, What part of America do you live? Because your statement “In America, it would be the other way around. KHJ would be rotting in jail by now. etc etc”, couldn’t be further away from the truth. What celebrity have you heard being sent to jail for domestic abuse? If it was abuse toward anyone other than their wife or girlfriend, sure they would be sitting in a jail cell but domestic abuse towards a woman hardly gets jail time.

      Just look at Chris Brown,did he serve some time for beating Rhianna? The recent,Ray Rice, who was seen on a video cold cocking his then fiancee unconscious and then was seen pulling her out and kicking her. Didn’t serve any time in jail. It was the big talk about domestic abuse but now the Bill Cosby scandal has taken full focus so in retrospect, LBH’s case would be the hotter topic.

      When it comes to women in America vs in other countries, the legal treatment is not that much different.

      • The ‘law’ as we believe it, can be a real joke. At least it can be, in Canada where I am.

        My best pals in SG are all lawyers from reputed universities, and they don’t really stick up for their profession either.

        It really boils down to whose lawyer has way more justifications or are cleverer about making up justifications for anything.

        Justice seldom asks the WHYs, or gets to the root of what even lead to what.

  2. I sometimes wonder how much twisted this whole K-society is…or are there even normal people in the country with normal and rational thinking?

    • Hey… I know some wonderful people there.It’s huge country. Reading just English based news articles are never a good way to judge a country and it’s citizens.

      I don’t believe in making sweeping statements. I am not Korean but having lived in a few countries, there are always going to be both good or also others with socially different lifestyle decisions. Trying not to impose my views of what’s socially acceptable behaviour or not.

      • Glad to hear that…otherwise seeing all crazy netizen comments and the unfair judgement related to celebs, I was upset…it’s a relief to know that it’s not the case in general and there is a normal life in the country.

    • I got to learn one thing from social media. The worst and most immature of any type of group are the loudest and always cause the “normal” people to be accused of their misdeeds. I’m pretty sure the average korean is as logical as most, but they don’t have the time to spend it all following and commenting on their idols.

      Plus maybe for 1 country’s rational thinking can appear irrational to the other

  3. Wow, Lotte. Way to stick up for the abused.

    I bet the guy who made that decision is a lot like Manager Ma from Misaeng.

    It won’t make much of a dent, but I will be sure to filter out any Lotte products I buy from my favorite Korean Grocery store.

  4. Take a step back to see the whole picture. How many scandals LBH have been involved in/ caused the last 5 years? How many scandals KHJ was involved in?
    When an endorser decided to cut off LBH so abruptly it means, he most likely was a “repeat offender” and his image was no longer suitable to represent the brand.
    And KHJ probably was a “first time offender”. He apologized, his fan base still supported him. He got another chance. That’s the story on short.
    It is not a debate about the gravity of their acts.

    • It’s actually a double-standard issue. Imagine if KHJ was a girl. Lotte will probably drop her during the court battle. KHJ is a lucky bastard to have such idiotic fans and idiotic endorsements. Lotte is definitely out of my eyes now. Hitting is wrong, especially towards a love one.

  5. Questionable ethics aside, I kind of get Lotte’s decision. I’m not saying I agree but I understand. Business is business. And apparently, Lotte business IS mercenary.

    • Lol i guess you got it right. It’s all about the target demography.

      I don’t get ppl judging korean society based on their business ethics. Would they like it if we judge americans based on Walmart’s ethics for example?

  6. Holy smokes Batman! That Suzy sticker was so lacking in tact, I just can’t. Hahahahahaha

    I don’t know what was going on inside the thought process or in what state where Nescafe execs were, but damn, you’d think they would at least make a sticker large enough to cover all the crevices of LBH that they did not want to expose. It’s either they were so much in panic that operations just threw up their arms and said: “what the hell, print out Suzy stickers stat!” or “make sure that dimensions are small enough to expose LBH’s features–yes! just like that! Heh, hate that guy!”

    I don’t know exactly if Nescafe is doing themselves any favors with this *cheap*skate move. Couldn’t they have just recalled and replaced all the boxes? I know for one that they guy who decided to do this wouldn’t have much of a job now if Nescafe is anything close to that of a big and reputable corporation that they are. Or then again, they could just simply be intentionally rubbing it in. Either way, dic*ish move all around. LOL. I’m not compaining though, that made my day.

  7. That sticker placement is hilarious and dumb, (O korean advertising). So Lotte is sticking by him even though he admitted to it? Sigh. It may not be the wrong business decision considering he’s still popular with his fans. I dont think this changes the status of his career though…I don’t think it going to see any major breakthrough if he doesn;t improve in the acting dept.

    • Oh, I think he’s a great actor. He managed to act like a soft-spoken nice guy for the whole wold to see rather than the fist-prone anger-management needed guy inside.

      • LOL. Then it’s a pity he doesn’t show this great ‘acting skills’ in dramas. I’m kidding. I don’t want to watch him in anything. I can’t get over his kind a-small-breath-of-wind-will-knock-me-down appearance in interviews versus his real punching women persona. In this regard your right, he’s a awesome actor. Probably this is what idol management companies do with their trainees for years: abrade personal traits to bend/twist a presentable character

  8. That effing shade. Not only did they cover his face with other person but that person is a newbie star that has like 20 years of career less than Lee Byun Hun. Lmao.

    • Finally someone with a brain! You are SO right! I’m speechless since NESCAFE is a multinational company…in my own country it’s nothing like that, but I guess “in Rome like Romans”. Of course, Suzy’s career outshines LBH! In korean universe anything is possible for a profit!

  9. I’m so confused? Are people upset that LBH lost his CF deal? IMO, I say good riddance, at least he got a little something taken away, even if it doesn’t “hurt” him at all. Sheesh. I know that he will continue to be that awful guy cause people just don’t really care and he will continue to exercise influence and power and earn money. So this is hardly a dent in his career.

    KHJ, yuck. Simply yuck abuser. Lotte is running a business and it’s clear that he has TONS of supporters still. So why wouldn’t Lotte keep him? Whose to blame here?

  10. It’s so frustrating to read some of the responses here. Why do people jump to simplistic conclusions about what Korean society is like just from reading one report about companies’ choices with regards to endorsements? It’s ridiculous and sad.

  11. I am a KHJ huge fan before but what he did is just wrong, and fans trying to cover for him and switching blame at the girl is so wrong. He did admit in his testimony that things got ‘rough’ with her, additionally he even denied dating her for that long. he was definitely lying at some point or the other. I guess while some of us just can’t condone him, other will. to each her/his own, I guess…

    interestingly, if you check at Osen’s most searched/keywords of 2014, you will have KHJ’s scandal at number 6 while LBHs scandal not even on the top 14. that my dear kdrama-kpop people is a curious thing?
    so why is that? I guess while the ads dropped LBH, the searched engines has ignored his scandal to be not search material…

    The worst things men can be are beaters and cheaters, so I really lost so much respect for this two… but I do hope they change their way, somehow…

  12. As far I live in nigeria who care you beat ur girl friend or ur wife becuase they belive that man have right beat a girl bt u must not beat her to death or u will rot in jail bt I belive khj does not have the right to beat is girl friend bt let us talk about this girl must have do something bad to him I mean khj can’t beat is girl any how acpect the girl did somthing. So am pls let give him another chance I mean this khj first scandal and I am a fan of movie acpect from age of feeling nd is music bt khj if he do that again I will be is anti-fan right away

    • It must be tough to see that happening around you – girls getting beat just because.

      I don’t agree that this woman could have done anything to even sort of deserve a beat down from the man who purportedly loves her.

      Let’s look at it this way:
      Women stop growing at about the time they get their period, while men continue to get taller and heavier even into their twenties.
      Physically, it is the same as if KHJ – grown, fit, muscle man – decided to beat up a 13 year old girl, let’s say his sister, for some reason. Is that all right?

      I was a very annoying little sister at 13. More than I am sure this woman was to KHJ. If any of my 4 brothers laid a finger on me, my father would chase them down to correct this behavior immediately. NEVER hit a girl. EVER. No exceptions. How did KHJ miss this important lesson? I realize I am trying to talk sense into people blinded by his, um, talents, but I can’t stand hearing the same arguments from women especially, who should know better.

  13. Heck care about Korean values; my values are that I will not watch LBH or KHJ anymore – there are dozens of other artistes out there. I do not condone their behavior and don’t like them because of it. Perhaps in some countries, cheating and extramarital flings are common but I despise Casanovas who play around with women – it’s a character defect – like them if you want. Abuse is a total no.

    • If the criteria for watching a movie or a drama would have been the personal lives of the actors and actresses, we would have been missing great masterpieces of the entertainment industry! Examples? Endless: Chaplin,Beatty,Sean Penn and the list goes on for ever..! If you want to search for a role model in k-dramaland, tough luck! Instead, you should watch “Rough Play” where director Kim exposes this world…only in the real world will you able to find examples of how would one should lead one’s life: parents, friends, teachers! Acting is by definition a vain profession!

  14. I don’t expect actors or actresses to be virtuous just because they play good people on TV. It surprises me when people (in any country) get upset because someone like LBH isn’t a Boy Scout.

    But hitting someone is different. Assault causes physical harm that you might not recover from. The “never hit a girl” rule should be a no-brainer. “Little” hits and “I didn’t mean to” hits still count. The fact that men get away with it in every country breaks my heart. The fact that female fans make excuses for it in every country breaks my heart. When are women going to be kind to other women? The minority of men who use violence are capable of controlling themselves if we treat each other like sisters, if we agree together that no woman should be injured by someone she’s in a relationship with.

    Sadly, it’s a radical concept given human history so far. But going to the moon was a radical concept, and we checked that one off the list. Real classy, Lotte. Guess I’ll look to H-mart instead to buy my next moon lander.

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