Webtoon “True Beauty” Under Massive Fire For Violating Publicity Rights Of Many Korean Celebrities

“Any artist should have the decency to ask for permission…”

The Korean webtoon True Beauty — with an upcoming K-Drama adaptation featuring ASTRO‘s Cha Eunwoo and actress Moon Ga Young — is under massive fire…

True Beauty | Yaongyi/Naver Webtoon

… for possibly “violating the publicity rights of many Korean celebrities.” The webtoon initially received a lot of attention for its main characters and their K-Pop visuals. While the character Lee Su Ho is thought to be modeled after ASTRO’s Cha Eunwoo…

Lee Su Ho (left) and ASTRO’s Cha Eunwoo (right). | Naver Webtoon, Fantagio Entertainment

… the character Han Seo Jun is like a doppelgänger of Kwon Hyun Bin (also known as VIINI).

Han Seo Jun (left) and Kwon Hyun Bin (right). | theqoo

While the resemblances are uncanny, the readers regarded it to be artistic inspiration. But as the recent few episodes of the webtoon introduced a new character, MC Ye Jin, who looks exactly like model Han Hye Jin, readers began questioning if the webtoonist could be violating the publicity rights of these Korean celebrities.

| yaongyi/Naver Webtoon

I don’t know if it’s because she doesn’t have the skill set to create her own characters or if it’s because she wants the clout that comes with her ‘models’. But regardless, if she’s going to make her characters look this similar, then she should at least talk to the ‘models’ about it. Not only for webtoons, but for all illustrations in general… Any artist should have the decency to ask for permission before basing fictional characters on actual, real people.

— Netizen

When the controversy grew, the webtoonist Kim Na Young (also known by her pen name Yaongyi) addressed it by sharing a string of since-deleted Instagram stories.

Screenshot of the webtoonist’s since-deleted Instagram stories.

The Real Life Models of Disney Characters Part 2

— Naver Post

These stories captured a blog post explaining how Disney also using real-life models to create characters for their animated movies, like Peter Pan and 101 Dalmatians.

Screenshots of the webtoonist’s since-deleted Instagram stories.

Upon seeing these, readers grew outraged.

| theqoo
  • “I wonder if she has permission from those stars to use them as models then…”
  • “Where is her conscience…? And she calls herself an artist…?”
  • “I’m pretty sure this violates copyright and she can get sued for it.”
  • “Yeah, I quit reading this because her characters reminded me of real stars and it threw me off so much, I couldn’t concentrate on the story.”

One netizen argued, “So in a sense, she is admitting that she did, in fact, ‘model’ her characters after the lookalike K-Pop stars — like Disney did. But do know that Disney hired and paid their models. She didn’t.

A cut from True Beauty. | yaongyi/Naver Webtoon

Shortly after deleting the stories, the webtoonist claimed that she’ll be taking legal action — assumed to be against the aggressive comments that followed the stories, as the document reads “Slander”.

Why have I stayed quiet all this time? I’m going to get legal help.

And if you have anything to say, leave it in the comments. Leave it with your actual account, not a fake one. I won’t be checking my DMs anymore.

— Kim Na Young

Unfortunately, the heat continues to grow online. Some believe the webtoonist’s Instagram reaction to the controversy only “added fuel to the fire.”

Webtoonist Kim Na Young (yaongyi). | @meow91__/Instagram
  • “Yes. I’m all for bringing the haters to court. Sue the malicious comments that are out of line. That’s that. But you should also explain yourself. Don’t stay quiet.”
  • “I don’t know… Haven’t you been violating a lot of laws to be talking about legal help and being righteous or whatever?”
  • “Go ahead. Get all the legal help you need. Don’t forget though, the readers still want your honest answer about your violation of publicity rights.”
Source: THEQOO (1), (2), (3), (4) and (5)