Product placements, also commonly known as PPL’s, have become the center of controversy in South Korea several times before, with numerous different K-Dramas coming under fire for their “inappropriate” PPL usage. True Beauty and Vincenzo are two K-Dramas that previously received scrutiny for their excessive inclusion of Chinese PPL’s within the series’, leading to official apologies from the production teams and the cast members.
As the ongoing controversies regarding product placements continue, another hit series has been added to the list and this time, it’s Penthouse 3.
The Penthouse series has become one of South Korea’s biggest hits, as the K-Drama continues to experience mass popularity both domestically and internationally. The first two seasons concluded with high viewership ratings that broke records and to add onto its impressive reputation, the series has gone on without any hiccups — that is until now.
In the most recently aired episode of Penthouse 3, Cheon Seo Jin (played by Kim So Yeon) can be seen entering a cafe where she interrupts Ha Eun Byeol‘s (played by Choi Ye Bin) bingsoo moment with Jin Boon Hong (played by Ahn Yeon Hong.) As Ha Eun Byeol and Jin Boon Hong try to enjoy their bingsoo (shaved ice,) Cheon Seo Jin barges in and begins to eat with them. However, it is this very scene that has been receiving backlash from the public.
While the bingsoo scene could have otherwise been a “normal” K-Drama moment, Cheon Seo Jin comments that you have to “eat bingsoo like this for it to taste good.” She then proceeds to pour some syrup over the bingsoo while the camera zooms into the shaved ice for an unnecessary close-up. During the zoom-in, viewers were able to see the cafe brand, COFFEE BAY up close and personal.
Penthouse 3 viewers couldn’t help but express their disbelief at the very obvious PPL advertisement that was happening right before their eyes. Comments, such as “isn’t the PPL too obvious?”, “there are too many PPL’s”, “Cheon Seo Jin is just filming a commercial right now” and “I can’t focus because of the advertisements” have begun to take over the comment section of the above clip.
COFFEE BAY’s product placement could be seen numerous times throughout this one scene, causing even more discomfort amongst the K-Drama’s viewers.
This is not the first time that Penthouse 3 has faced scrutiny. The K-Drama recently came under fire for introducing a new American character that exhibited signs of cultural appropriation towards the African-American community. The character had dreads and used AAVE (African American Vernacular English) which is highly offensive. This new character was met with heavy backlash from international viewers, resulting in an apology from the actor Park Eun Seok.
As the ongoing PPL criticisms grow, SBS has not yet made an official statement. In the meanwhile, you can check out the scene in question down below.