[K:OP-ED] Korean entertainment’s plagiarism culture, can this continue?

The Korean entertainment industry has recently come under heavy fire due to frequent plagiarism accusations across all industries, including music and dramas.

Just in the past month, one after another, many affiliated artists, actors, and staff of music and drama are in the public’s attention due to plagiarism accusations. These accusations are made based on unbelievably similar coincidence with other works of art. Although the affiliated agencies and broadcasting stations usually give immediate statements explaining the similarities in works and styles, the plagiarism controversy does not easily fade away.

On January 14th, Nine Muses unveiled the jacket photo of the upcoming mini-album DRAMA. However, it was soon under attack for looking similar to the concept of fashion magazine W Korea‘s 7th anniversary photo-shoot for the March publication in 2012.

Soon after the controversy, Star Empire Entertainment replied, “We have already confirmed the copyright prior to filming our jacket photo.” Yet, according to W Korea on January 15th, “Differing from the reported news regarding Star Empire Entertainment’s claim confirming the copyright prior to filming, W Korea’s editor and photographer Hong Jang Hyun never received inquiries regarding the affiliated photo-shoot. There were no agreements made for it as well.”

EXO‘s recent comeback teaser video was in question of plagiarism as well. Swedish designer, Eric Soderberg, posted on his blog, “I want to notify the point that ‘EXO’s 2015 Coming Soon’ clip’s motion graphic has been used without the permission of the original artists.” Whilst according to the outsource of EXO’s teaser clip, VM Production on January 15th, “We have compensated and received permission by the graphic producer of the related source. It is definitely not plagiarism. We are confused with this sudden happening and have contacted the original creator to normalize the YouTube service for the teaser video.”

This stigma of plagiarism is not only shown in the Korean music industry, but also in various broadcasting stations. KBS 2TV‘s Friday drama special, SPY, recently released its drama poster on January 5th. Yet, it was accused for its similarities with the film poster of the re-released movie Léon: The Professional in 2013. An official from KBS stated in January 10th, “We will not bother with the accusations regarding the similarities of the posters.”

MBC was in the center of controversy for its 2014 Entertainment Awards Show that took place on December 29th in 2014 in Seoul. The show was scrutinized for the alleged plagiarism concerning its nomination poster. The posters of Kim Gu Ra, Kim Su Ro, Park Myeong Su, Seo Kyung Suk, Yoo Jae Suk, and more were designed with the related keywords and formed the silhouette images of the affiliated candidates. However, the style of the posters were accused to resemble those used for 2009 Grammy Awards.

To this controversy, MBC explained on December 30th, “This was not plagiarized. It only resembles due to the similarity in the typographic genre used for the design of the poster. Our production team used typography’s word arrangement as part of expressive design, which has been used by various media as well for a long time now. We have checked that there is no legal issues in this usage. ‘Plagiarism’ is a word used when others’ right of their copyright has been illegally infringed. We want to clarify the point that the recent plagiarism accusation has been made into news due to our use of the same genre in design.”

More recently, SBS‘ Monday-Tuesday drama series Healer was accused of plagiarism for its opening clip. After the airing of the pilot episode, many netizens brought up the resemblance of Healer‘s opening clip to an American investigation series television drama. During the press conference of the drama on December 16th, PD Lee Jung Seok of Healer mentioned, “There are many films like Cold Eyes too in Korea. I don’t feel right saying that ‘this certain genre only pertains to American television series.’ Just because of the the drama’s setting, it doesn’t mean the creative content is brought from American television series or specific films. It was our creative idea, but if we are accused for its resemblance in expression.. then I want to rather cross-examine if the specific expression of technique belonging to that certain American television series’.” 

Source: Newsen