A court ruling came out that the separation process between Son Heung-min and former management company ‘Sports United’ was legal. The 17th Civil Division of the Seoul Central District Court (Chief Kim Seong-won) said in a lawsuit filed by ICM Stella Korea CEO Jang Ki-young against Son & Football Limited on the 1st, “Payment of 247 million won in settlement money for 4 advertisements in 2019. Do it,” he said. Son & Football Limited is a management company run by Son Heung-min’s father, Son Woong-jeong (61). ACM Stella Korea (formerly ‘Sports United’) CEO Jang Ki-young was Son Heung-min’s management company, but broke up in 2019.
In June 2019, Son Heung-min announced his intention to terminate the contract when Jang decided to sell his company to Company A, which also serves as a drama production company and management. In an official notice of contract termination in November of that year, he said, “I clearly said that I just want to play football, I am not greedy for money, and I do not want to do it, but in November, my face was included in the materials of the briefing session and there was business progress,” he said. announced that it would cancel. Then, Mr. Jang filed a lawsuit claiming a total of 2.7 billion won, saying, “I sold the stock legally based on an exclusive agent contract and suffered damages due to unfair contract termination.”
The key was whether Jang had Son Heung-min’s ‘exclusive agent contract’. Mr. Jang sent an e-mail with the ‘exclusive agent contract’ (written in July 2018), which he suggested that the contract termination was unfair. It is argued that Sports United also has the authority to sign an advertisement for Son Heung-min and use the portrait right. Regarding this, Son Heung-min refuted via e-mail, saying, “I have never signed such a contract with my own hand, and my father has never signed an agent contract, so isn’t that a crime?”
The court judged that apart from the form of ‘work-remuneration’, Mr. Jang did not have the ‘authority to conclude (Son Heung-min’s) advertisement’ and ‘the right to use or permit the use of Son Heung-min’s portrait right’. As a result of the handwriting appraisal, one appraiser determined that it matched Son Heung-min’s handwriting, but another appraiser saw it as a fake, saying, “One-third of the signature, which is divided into three parts, is similar to the real one, but the other two-thirds are unnatural.”
The court judged that the exclusive agent contract was not established, saying that there was a possibility that someone would imitate Son Heung-min’s signature, taking into account the results of the appraisal and the circumstances at the time the contract was written. The judge said, “If Son Heung-min’s relationship with company A continues, his portrait rights will be excessively used in commercial advertisements, he will have no choice but to be involved in unwanted entertainment activities, and he will be unable to concentrate on sports as a soccer player.” He said, “The relationship of trust has been broken.” As a result, 1.8 billion won in damages due to contract termination was not recognized, and it was ruled that only settlements for some advertisements should be paid.