‘It’s Okay’ star Seo Ye-ji facing backlash from companies as issues continue to hound her

Published April 17, 2021, 6:02 PM

by Jonathan Hicap

Seo Ye-ji in ‘It’s Okay to Not Be Okay’ (tvN) 

After denying that she manipulated former boyfriend, actor Kim Jung-hyun, “It’s Okay to Not be Okay” star Seo Ye-ji is facing backlash from brands that she has endorsed as other issues continue to hound her such as suspicions on her academic background, mistreatment of staff and school violence.

Companies of several products that Seo Ye-ji has endorsed including a health care supplement, face mask, cosmetics and eyewear have either deleted her ad photos or turned YouTube videos featuring her to private. 

Korean media reported that because of the controversies, Seo Ye-ji is in danger of paying huge penalties to companies which hired her as endorser of their products. Endorsement contracts including those with celebrities usually have a morality clause, which imposes penalties if they get involved in controversies or scandals that affect the brand’s image. 

Seo Ye-ji has been in the spotlight since Korean media outlet Dispatch published a news story on April 12, accusing her of manipulating then boyfriend Kim Jung-hyun when he was filming the TV drama “Time” in 2018. 

The report included Seo Ye-ji and Kim Jung-hyun’s exchange of messages on KakaoTalk, a mobile messaging app, in which she ordered him not to film any “skinship” or physical contact scenes with co-star Seohyun,  not to greet female staff and for him to change the script so there would be no romantic scenes or skinship. 

She also ordered Kim Jung-hyun to take videos and audio recordings during filming and send them to her. The news report added that when Kim Jung-hyun received a script, he would ask for revisions and send it to Seo Ye-ji. 

In one of the text message exchanges, Kim Jung-hyun told Seo Ye-ji, “I keep reading the script. I’m not doing anything else.” She told him, “Correct it well so there is no romance. You are happy because of me. So make me happier.” It added that from episodes 5 to 12 of “Time,” the script had 13 skinship scenes but none of them made it to the airing. 

Through her agency Goldmedalist, Seo Ye-ji issued a statement denying that she manipulated him and that she had a hand in changing the script of “Time,” and dumped the blame on Kim Jung-hyun, saying he did those things with his “own free will.”  

She admitted that she and Kim Jung-hyun were lovers at the time and dismissed the KakaoTalk messages and accusations of manipulation as mere “lovers’ quarrel.” 

In the same statement, Seo Ye-ji denied accusations that she lied about her academic background. 

When she became a guest on the TV program “Knowing Bros” in March 2017, she said she went to Spain to study and lived there for three and a half years.  

Cast member Seo Jang-hoon asked her, “Did you go to college there?” to which she replied, “Yeah.” 

Goldmedalist explained that Seo Ye-ji had “prepared for admission to Complutense University of Madrid in Madrid, Spain but she was not able to attend college normally as she began her career in Korea. Also, we would like to say that the additional allegations of school violence are not true at all.”

In another controversy, a netizen who said she was a staff member who previously worked with Seo Ye-ji narrated that the actress mistreated staff at Goldmedalist. 

“As a staff member going around in the same car with her for several years, verbal abuse was nothing. She smoked in the car, so I suffered from secondhand smoke. Also, she made me buy cigarettes and would scold me for a small mistake while blowing smoke in my face,” the netizen claimed, the Korea Herald reported. 

Goldmedalist was set up by actor Kim Soo-hyun when he left KeyEast in 2019 and recruited Seo Ye-ji. Kim Soo-hyun and Seo Ye-ji starred in last year’s “It’s Okay to Not Be Okay,” a drama in which Goldmedalist served as a production company.