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All was well, in fact damn good, for the Descendants of the Sun star Song Hye-kyo after the grand success of the Korean drama but the latest controversy related to jewelry brand J Estina and involving the actress has created a major mess.

Korean actress and Descendants of the Sun female lead Song Hye-kyo was slammed with a countersuit for allegedly violating the terms of her endorsement contract in response to a lawsuit Song filed against the company.

Song Hye-kyo has filed a $260,000 (S$350,000) lawsuit against J Estina, which in turn has accused the actress of violating the terms of her contract. It has also stated that her tax problems had caused it significant losses.

J Estina is reported to have also claimed that the commercial use of images from TV series Descendants of the Sun was legal. In an official release, the jewelry brand said it abided by the contract with the TV series production staff, which allowed it to use stills from the episodes.

The press release was distributed to the media in response to the accusations against J Estina made by Song’s legal representatives. J Estina stated that it was Song who “breached the contract to exclusively use its products”. Song wore jewelry from other brands in some other episodes. J.Estina also claimed that it was legitimate to use Hye-kyo’s pictures as one of the main sponsors of Descendants of the Sun.

The firm, which signed a $2.6 million contract with the actress last year but did not extend it, invoked Song’s tax irregularities that were revealed in 2015, saying they “triggered a significant loss” in its profitability.

But the series’ production firm New Entertainment World disagreed and took umbrage: the jewelry firm’s arguments lack legal grounds.

Next Entertainment World, however, denied J Estina’s claim that it has approved the commercial use of the image. “It is widely perceived as a norm for a company to get permission from the talent in such cases,” a source from Next Entertainment World was quoted as saying. “Moreover, J Estina was the only company that used snaps from the series for commercial purposes. J Estina did so without our consent. We warned the company several times against its excessive misappropriation.”

According to a Dispatch report on Thursday, J Estina inked a $61,000 contract with the Next Entertainment World to expose its products through the series twice. The report said it was not problematic to wear jewelry products from companies other than the main sponsor J Estina, quoting a source from TV series production firm, once the series exposed the products met the given product placement quota.

“A production company cannot force an actor or actress to put on jewelry from a company with a product placement contract.” The firm said that J Estina had “tarnished the actress’ reputation” by bringing up her tax irregularities and would “take action against it.” “This is such an outrageous act,” a lawyer from the agency told Sports Daily. “The first thing they do is shred the reputation of an actress. We are very intimidated (by their act of misleading the public).”

J Estina exposed its products including earrings and necklaces through product placement in the series that stirred global attention, prompting its net sales to soar about 70 per cent on-year in March.

J Estina and Song Hye-Kyo were entangled in a similar legal brawl in 2013 when the company illegally used images from That Winter, the Wind Blows to promotes its products. The case was settled by the parties.

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