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Choi's Death Hits Ildong Pharmaceuticals

2008/10/03 Source

By Jane Han
Staff Reporter

Top actress Choi Jin-shil's sudden death Thursday morning was sad for all, but those with business connections to the popular celebrity were quick to act to minimize the negative impact on their brand image.

Ildong Pharmaceuticals, which had a 12-month contract with Choi, 10 months of which had passed, immediately pulled down all online ads from Web portals and the company's Web site upon hearing news of the suicide.

It discontinued airing radio and television commercials for popular vitamin supplement Aronamin Gold and healing agent Mediform. She has represented these products since 2005 on an annually renewed contract.

Following the news, the drug maker's stock price fell slightly, closing at 27,600 won Thursday, down 1.43 percent from the previous trading session. The financial market was closed Friday for a holiday.

Her agency SBM Korea's share price also showed little fluctuation, but the shocking suicide of the much-adored "nation's actress" shook the stock market, especially because the malicious rumor that drove her to her death reportedly emerged from the financial industry.

Police investigation said Choi suffered mental stress in recent weeks amid groundless rumors that she had lent money to actor Ahn Jae-hwan, who had killed himself in early September over mounting debt.

Rumors quickly spread online through blogs and other Web channels.

After police found Friday that the person responsible for the first malicious posting on Choi was a female employee of a local securities firm, it is expected that there will be a crackdown to prevent unsubstantiated rumors spreading within the financial industry.

Other rumors have started in similar ways in the past, such as the "Celebrity X File" ― a giant file of rumors surrounding celebrities and politicians ― which was found to have originated from a securities brokerage in 2005. Celebrity gossip has often accompanied rumors about company acquisition and other business-related hearsay.

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