The Korean Government Has Banned Idol Birthday Ads

“Please stop dragging the Seoul Metro into the center of controversies.”

Seoul Metro announced its decision to stop running what is called “Opinion Ads” in the city’s subway stations, effective starting next year.


Per the definition of “Opinion Ads”, which include any promotional advertisement that share sexual, political, religious, or ideologic opinions of an individual or a group, K-Pop idol birthday ads will become a thing of the past as well.

While for many K-Pop fans, these ad spaces have become a fun way to celebrate their favorite idols’ birthdays, Seoul Metro has gone under fire on several occasions because of such “Opinion Ads” and for allowing certain ads while banning others.


When the supporters of South Korean president Moon Jae In decided to put up ads to congratulate his birthday, some controversy was stirred up. Some Koreans considered this unfit, as the city’s public transportation being used for a political movement.

Other opinion ads, like that portraying ideas of feminism or promoting a politically controversial book, have been turned down or taken down — also causing great controversy among Korean citizens where to exactly draw the line.


Upon announcing the decision to ban all “Opinion Ads” from subway stations, Seoul Metro’s CEO Kim Tae Ho stated on his Facebook, “The purpose of the subway is to provide convenient transportation for everyone, not to start up arguments and controversies.”

“Please stop dragging the Seoul Metro into the center of controversies… With several hundred thousands of people using the metro, the subway stations can be an appealing place to share opinions. The stations, however, should never be used for noise marketing. There are plenty of other methods and spaces where such opinions can be expressed. Seoul Metro is working on improving the subway stations for all citizens, by switching over from commercial advertisements to cultural advertisements as well.” — Kim Tae Ho


Fans are widely discouraged by the organization’s decision.

  • “Why though… Isn’t Seoul Metro making tons of money from these idol birthday ads?”

  • “Switching over to cultural advertisements? Idols are K-Pop culture.”

  • “How stupid… Whose loss is it going to be to ban idol birthday ads?”

  • “I’m personally far more offended by plastic surgery ads and private loan ads. Aren’t those more harmful?”

  • “But there are so many disgusting game ads with half naked characters or weight loss ads that promote unhealthy diets… What did idols ever do?”
Source: SBS News