Publisher defends author over plagiarism case

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Publisher defends author over plagiarism case

Paik Nak-Chung, an influential literary critic in Korea, defended novelist Shin Kyung-sook, who has been accused of plagiarizing a famous Japanese writer.

Novelist Lee Eung-jun claimed in June that Shin plagiarized from “Patriotism” (1961), a short story by Japanese author Yukio Mishima (1925-70), to write her short story “Legend” (1996). Paik is the largest shareholder in Changbi, the publishing house that released “Legend.”

He is also the publisher of Changbi’s quarterly literary magazine.

In a Facebook post on Friday, Paik said that “the phrases in question bear enough resemblance to be accused of plagiarism,” but he added that he cannot agree with accusations that “[the act] was an intentional copying and therefore the author committed a shameless crime.”

The June accusation shocked the country not solely because Shin is a best-seller in Korea and abroad, but also because it revealed how publishers, critics and authors form a sort of vicious circle to overlook plagiarism to promote their star writers. Critics have dubbed the incestuous relations in Korea’s literary circles the “Literary Power.”

Paik, a professor emeritus at Seoul National University, also discussed the alleged “Literary Power” phenomenon. He said such an issue was not simple and needs a lot of discussions and time to find a solution. He added that Changbi will examine its internal systems and seek reforms.

Changbi got a lot of bad press for a statement released after the plagiarism accusation because it defended Shin and even attempted to trivialize the accusation. Along with Gimmyoung, Munhakdongne and Minumsa, Changbi is considered one of Korea’s top publishing houses.

BY KIM HYUNG-EUN [hkim@joongang.co.kr]

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