A Korean dairy conglomerate is being dragged on social media for an ad depicting women as cows to be milked

Stills from an advertisement by South Korean company Seoul Milk
Stills from an advertisement uploaded to YouTube in November by Seoul Milk. The ad, which prompted social media outrage, showed women in a field who later morph into cows.
Screengrab/YouTube
  • A South Korean milk conglomerate has apologized for its latest ad.
  • The 37-second commercial features a man with a video camera stumbling upon white-clad women who later morph into mooing cows.
  • The ad prompted outrage, with YouTube users calling out the company for likening women to cows.

A South Korean milk conglomerate has been embroiled in a social media firestorm for running an ad depicting women as cows. 

In a 37-second advertisement from Seoul Milk, one of the biggest milk brands in South Korea, a man totes a massive video camera as he treks through the woods to an idyllic grove. Arriving in this forested area, he secretly films women drinking clear water from a stream and stretching in a field. 

The ad opens with the man narrating his path through the forest, saying: "We finally succeeded in capturing them on camera at a pristine location where nature is preserved in its purity."

"They drink clean water from pure nature, consume an eco-friendly organic diet, and live peacefully in a placid environment. I will try to approach them cautiously," continues the man's narration.

The filmmaker then accidentally snaps a twig and startles his subjects — who have morphed from women into mooing cows.

The commercial ends with the tagline: "Clean water, organic feed, 100% pure Seoul Milk. Organic milk from an organic ranch in the pleasant nature of Cheongjang."

According to The Korea Herald, the video was first uploaded to Seoul Milk's official YouTube channel on November 29. It was removed on December 8 after the ad prompted a social media backlash. 

"I will never drink Seoul Milk again," read one comment on the Seoul Dairy Cooperative's Instagram page seen by The Korea Herald. "Humans should never be described as cattle, and spy-camming can never be used as advertisement material." 

Some YouTube commenters on the original video critiqued the ad, saying that it encouraged the filming of sexually-explicit hidden camera footage, also known as "molka," per screenshots documented by pop-culture site Koreaboo,

"Molka plus Misogyny. Just amazing," read one YouTube comment from a YouTube user with the ID "bK Jj." 

While the original video has been taken down, comments were also posted on re-uploads of the commercial. 

"How did this disgusting advertisement even get approved? Was no thought put into its planning and production?" read one YouTube comment from user PenKeiYiKeu.

In response to the swirling controversy, Seoul Milk uploaded a statement to its website on December 8. 

"We sincerely apologize to everyone who felt uncomfortable with the milk commercial," read the company's statement. "We are accepting this matter with a heavy heart and will conduct an internal review, and take extra care to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future. We bow our heads in apology." 

A picture of a switch and lightbulb
Sign up for notifications from Insider! Stay up to date with what you want to know.
Subscribe to push notifications
Close icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. It indicates a way to close an interaction, or dismiss a notification.