You can find the iconic green bottle everywhere in Korea. The green bottle means Soju to Korean people. Soju is the most loved and consumed alcoholic beverage and considered as the “National Drink.” With the green package, another characteristic of soju is the celebrities’ image printed on it. However, recently the South Korea government is considering changing the rule of using images of celebrities on the bottles for the promotion of the products. Their official statement is that popular celebrities wield great influence over children and teenagers, therefore glamorizes female models and encourages to drink soju to teens. I personally think that this new regulation is appropriate.
Before we look at the new regulation, let’s take a glance on the history of advertisement on soju. It was in the 1990s when the first female celebrity images were printed on the bottles. All these celebrities have been very well known, famous, and popular. There were some male celebrities who advertised soju on TV commercials, but it was only the female that was printed on the bottles. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), South Korea is the only country that allows this kind of advertisement.
As seeing this as a problem, the Korean government announced that they are looking for the ways to ban advertising using celebrities. Also, they are trying to revise the Public Health Promotion Act’s enforcement ordinance. I think that celebrities’ advertisement on soju do have an influence on teens and put them at a higher risk of actual use of alcohol. Smoking is an example. As smoking is blurred out on TV shows, and the graphic warnings on cigarette packs have been enlarged, people are aware that smoking is harmful to their health and recognize cigarette as a carcinogen. On the other hand, people think drinking soju is not as bad as smoking. There is even a saying “a moderate amount of drinking is good for you.” The alcohol commercials are mainly about drinking soju while hanging out with your friends, drinking to relieve stress after a hard day, or just for fun. These all contain positive images of alcohol, which could give teens the idea that alcohol is not harmful.
In addition, I think that putting female celebrity’s picture on bottles is a commercialization using sexuality, so they must change along with the current trends. The printed images have constantly highlighted women’s sexual appeal. A study from Sungkyunkwan University reported that in order to target men, the main consumers, many drink industries adopted a sexy posture of a female model, which creates sexual fantasies. While beer commercials contain images of successful men, soju commercials show female models who acts pure or friendly, making customers feel like they are drinking with the celebrity if they consume that product. “Femvertising” is a term that highlights independent and conative women unlike other commercials, which focus on showing women’s sexual attractiveness. This is receiving lots of attention from many people and I think it will change soju advertisements soon.
Advertisement is a strong genre that influences a lot of people through the media. Since many people are encompassed by excessive advertisements, we need critical eyes on advertisements, starting with soju. Those who are against of the new regulation argue that the celebrity images on bottles do not glamorize, encourage drinking, or contain a sexualized commercialization. However, if that is true why not just get rid of them if it is not such an important thing?
Hur Min-young email@example.com
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