Actress Lee Young-ae has dissociated herself from any businesses that use the title of her biggest hit show "Dae Jang Geum". The star's lawyers took out a full-page advert on Tuesday's Chosun Ilbo to warn advertisers against unauthorized use of her likeness.
Since the period soap became a worldwide hit, airing in over 90 countries, many people have falsely represented themselves as Lee's manager or agent in Asia and signed contracts for use of her likeness with forged signature stamps.
"Dozens of such cases have been discovered, and advertisers use her to sell anything from kimchi to chocolate", Lee Jong-mu of the actress' law firm said.
"In China, they're selling shampoo that has Lee Young-ae's picture on the label, and we've been told there are over 500 imposters who fraudulently present themselves as Lee's agent. We ran the ad to make clear that our law firm is a single entity that deals with matters about Lee's portrait rights and to prevent further damage".
The law firm plans to run a similar ad in a Chinese newspaper next week.
There have been a series of lawsuits over Lee's portrait rights in the last few years. In 2011, a 44-year-old woman surnamed Hwang was entrusted with the sale of Lee's portrait rights by Lee's management agency Leeyes. Hwang signed a contract with a kimchi company, but later Lee backed out saying Hwang had signed without consulting Lee and using a forged stamp.
The kimchi company then sued Hwang for fraud and Lee for defamation.
In February this year, Lee was embroiled in a legal battle with organic cosmetics brand Mineral Bio. Lee had been paid an advance of W300 million to endorse the brand in June last year, but she refused to model for it after harmful substances were found in their products.
Mineral Bio refuted Lee's position, claiming that although phenoxyethanol was found in one of its products, the amount did not exceed the permitted level set by the Korea Food and Drug Administration.
Lee is currently involved in eight more legal cases.
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