Six online shopping malls run by celebrities were found guilty of violating the electronic commerce law and were fined a combined W38 million (US$1=W1,142), the Fair Trade Commission said Monday.
The FTC found that most of the 997 reviews posted over the past year praising the quality of products sold on the shopping site of singers Baek Ji-young and Yu-ri were written by staff. It said staff of iamyuri.com who had violated some company regulations were forced to write five favorable reviews each as a punishment.
Evajunie.com run by singer and actress Kim Jun-hee advertised tombola prizes for customers purchasing more than W70,000 (US$1=W1,142) worth of goods, but the FTC found that only those who spent much more money received them.
Amai.co.kr run by singer Hwang Hye-young deliberately erased 34 comments by customers criticizing the quality of products they purchased over the past year. And singer and actress Jin Jae-young, who runs aura-j.kr, actress Han Yae-in (shopgirls.co.kr) and model Kim Yong-pyo (lotoco.com) were fined for refusing to refund customers for defective products.
Celebrity shopping sites target consumers in their teens to 30s, and some 136 were in operation as of the end of March this year. Online shops usually generate around W1 billion in annual sales, but Jin made W20 billion last year, while Baek and Yu-ri made W9 billion and Hwang W5.8 billion.
The six that were fined are required to post the FTC's ruling on their main pages for three to seven days. "We investigated the six major ones first but will continue our probe into the remaining 130 to see if there were any violations," the FTC said in a press release.