South Korea bans influencers for promoting products without fully disclosing corporate ties

South Korea is banning social media influencers from promoting a product or service on their online platforms without revealing ties to corporate sponsors. According to South Korean news agency Yonhap, the country's Fair Trade Commission said under the new rules, social media influencers are required to clearly state if their product endorsements are "financially rewarded or intended for promotion". Vague phrases such as "thanks to" or "reviewer group" will be forbidden in videos.

The commission added that the revised ad guidelines for social media platforms will come into effect next month. Influencers and corporate sponsors who violate the rule will face a fine of up to 2% of related sales and revenue or about US$422,000, Yonhap added.

The decision comes after South Korean influencers copped flak for their "backdoor advertising", as they had allegedly not told fans about paid promotions. The controversy mainly revolved around mukbang influencers who have garnered fans by showcasing themselves wolfing down large amounts of food and completing food challenges. Earlier this month, Yonhap reported that a YouTuber had accused several mukbang influencers for not clearly stating promotional material, adding that he spent the past two years collecting evidence. Mukbang influencers such as Boki, Hamzy and Mbro have since apologised for not disclosing ads in certain videos, or for indicating in small letters in sections not easily noticeable, Yonhap said.

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