The Seoul Metropolitan Government on Monday said it will write to liquor manufacturers, talent agencies and advertising firms urging them to stop using stars with an appeal to young audiences to advertise alcoholic drinks.
If they fail to cooperate, the city government said it will turn to the National Tax Service to audit them for any financial irregularities.
The city said it means any celebrities who are popular among young people and capable of influencing them, including singers, actors and athletes.
According to a study by the Korea Public Health Association for the city government, liquor ads appeared 574 times a day on average on TV, radio and in newspapers from January to November this year to total 189,566, and 17 out of the 22 celebrities who appeared in those ads were members of manufactured bands.
Actor Kim Soo-hyun appeared most frequently in liquor ads, pitching OB and Cass beer 40,124 times. Second was actor Gong Yoo (23,578 times), third figure skating champion Kim Yu-na (20,785 times), followed by actors Lee Dong-wook (20,702 times) and Cha Seung-won (15,465 times).
"At a time when the second most popular profession among teenagers is acting or singing, hiring teen idols to advertise alcohol means dodging the responsibilities to protect young people," said Kim Kyoung-ho at the Seoul city government. "That is why we are calling for change."