Jun Ji Hyun and Kim Soo Hyun, the stars of the hugely popular drama “Man from the Stars,” were recently caught in controversy concerning their recent endorsement with Hongda Group’s mineral water company Hongda Bingchuan (恒大氷泉).
The issue centers around the fact that the source of the water was named as Changbai Mountain. Changbai is the Chinese name for Baekdu Mountain, a mountain between the border of North Korea and China. This arose as a problem, as many think of this as stemming from China’s Northeast Project, which is an academic project that claims and aims to prove that historical Korean kingdoms were part of and under the control of China. The issue is a political one, and many are raising their voices in favor of the opinion that the choice of naming the mountain Changbai instead of Baekdu is an attempt to express the area around the mountain as under Chinese influence. Moreover, there is the opinion that Kim Soo Hyun and Jun Ji Hyun are being used as tools in China’s Northeast Project.
After their respective agencies made public apologies for neglecting to check the name of the water source, Jun Ji Hyun and Kim Soo Hyun requested to the company that their contracts be terminated, with full understanding that cancellation of the contract will result in fees of potentially several hundred million won.
This isn’t the first time there has been an issue with the naming of Baekdu Mountain. Netizens previously criticized the company Nongshim for labeling the source of water on the water distributed in China as Changbai Mountain, as well.
Baekdu Mountain was in fact called Changbai (JangBaek) Mountain for a long time, by both China and Korea. The so-called equation of Changbai (JangBaek) equals Northeast Project equals traitor came about in 2005, when China’s half of Baekdu Mountain, previously managed by the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture, moved under the maintenance of the Jilin Provincial Government. Previously, Baekdu Mountain, as a result of the 1962 Sino-Korean border treaty, was split in half between China and North Korea.