Olympic gold medalist Kim Yu-na of South Korea has been known to do a commercial or two in her day. Ah, who are we kidding - there's not much she won't endorse. But she's gotten into a bit of hot water since lending her mug to some mugs of beer. Kim's modeling work with Hite beer has sparked a backlash.
The Korean Academy of Addiction Psychiatry has called for a ban on sports starts advertising alcohol, highlighting Kim particularly and sports stars influence on youth culture, according to The Jakarta Post.
Additionally, a recent editorial in The Korea Times urged Kim to pull out of the campaign. "So when I plead her to yank herself out of that beer commercial, the power of my plea comes from the fact that she is a role model for many young people and should determine by her good sense whether that commercial serves any good purpose," reads the editorial.
This brings up a topic I sometimes think about. When do you say no to advertising for something, no matter how much money you are getting paid? I always wonder about the ethics of athletes posing as spokespeople for junk food or fast food, but I suppose you don't have to necessarily eat something or support something to put your face on it (though your face is a tacit endorsement of the product). But I guess the alcohol endorsement goes even a step further given the more immediate negative effects alcohol can have and the fact that it's illegal for the younger population. Kim obviously does not need the money; I would imagine she could probably have been a bit more picky in her endorsement. Interestingly, the NFL and MLB apparently do not allow their players to endorse alcoholic beverages in the United States, which I think is probably the smartest move for the leagues' images.
What do you think? Athletes should be able to endorse whatever they want -- or should they be more picky about their gigs?