January 10, 2020 13:01
The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety said Thursday that 15 social media influencers and livestream retailers were nabbed for lying about the benefits of health supplements and other products.
The announcement follows a probe by the ministry from August to December last year of puffs posted by influencers with more than 100,000 followers.
They include some bona fide celebrities like comedian Park Myung-soo's wife, Han Soo-min, and former singer Kim Junie. Han is accused of exaggerating the health effects of zucchini extract tea, and Kim of exaggerating the benefits of cosmetics.
Influencers usually advertise products by claiming to have used them or getting freebies to use them. YouTube channel Botta, which has 200,000 followers, posted a video last year touting an aphrodisiac made from zucchini and mushrooms. The probe found that the operators of the channel had been paid by the manufacturer.
This is the first time the ministry has cracked down on YouTubers and other social media influencers since regulations caught up with the new profession in April last year to punish exaggerated or false advertising of products. They will be reported to police.
Punishment is a maximum 10-year prison term and up to W100 million in fines (US$1=W1,161).
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