BTS-linked company fined for 'SKY Castle' chair claims
Bodyfriend, a company with products promoted by BTS, was found to have engaged in false advertising.
On Wednesday, the Fair Trade Commission (FTC) said it had fined the seller of high-end massaging recliners 22 million won ($18,300) for claiming that one of its models helps children grow taller and increases their concentration and memory through a patented “brain massage.”
The FTC also reported to the prosecutors' office.
The antitrust authority said that the Highkey chair, which was introduced in July last year, was promoted with exaggerated claims. BTS was not involved in the marketing of that specific model, but the seven members engaged in horseplay around another model in a commercial.
In introducing the Highkey, Bodyfriend CEO Park Sang-hyun said on Jan. 7, 2019, that the product targets children aged eight to 19 between 120 and 170 centimeters (3 feet, 11 inches to 5 feet, 7 inches) in height.
The CEO claimed that the massage chair can stimulate growth and relieve fatigue, improving a child's learning abilities. Brain recovery improves 8.8 times, concentration sustainability 2.2 times and memory 2.3 times, the company said.
Highkey was a product placement in "SKY Castle" (2018), a JTBC drama which detailed the education of upper-class Koreans.
The case is turned over to the prosecutors, and the company could face 150 million won in fines. Those responsible could spend up to two years in jail. The Ministry of Health and Welfare has been informed.
Bodyfriend tested the chair on 25 of its own employees in 2017 and sought the approval of the Institutional Review Board (IRB), which makes ethical determinations. In seeking the review, the company included a research plan for the testing of subjects aged 20 to 50.
The IRB gave its approval on June 21, 2017, three days after the request was made, and the company only conducted tests on the 25 employees. The testing lasted until the end of 2017.
The results were published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, a journal, in April 2018.
BY LEE HO-JEONG [firstname.lastname@example.org]