The Korea Herald


Culture Ministry to address plagiarism plaguing literary awards

By Lim Jang-won

Published : Jan. 24, 2021 - 14:41

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Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism building in Sejong (Culture Ministry) Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism building in Sejong (Culture Ministry)

Democratic Party lawmaker Jeon Yong-gi, a member of the National Assembly‘s Culture, Sports and Tourism Committee announced Sunday that the Culture Ministry would conduct an investigation of all literary awards in Korea.

The literary community was shocked earlier this month to find out Sohn Chang-hyun had won multiple literary awards with work that plagiarized author Kim Min-jung’s “Ppuri,” or root, the winner of the 2018 Baekma Culture Award. The Baekma Culture Award is given by Myongji University.

“We will create a consensus so that competitions that are held and run in collaboration with literary committees and organizations can address the copyright issue,” the Culture Ministry had said in response to the incident.

On Jan. 16, Kim accused former military officer Sohn of plagiarising her work and winning five literary awards through a Facebook post. Kim announced that she would take legal action against Sohn.

“If people hadn’t alerted me, I would have never known that this had happened,” said Kim on her Facebook post. “I hope this doesn’t end with just reimbursement for damages done to me. (I hope) that ethical awareness of plagiarism and theft will upheld across the creative world.”

Sohn later appeared in a radio interview where he admitted to winning almost 40 awards, of which he claimed more than 30 percent had been won with plagiarized works. He not only plagiarized Kim’s work but also plagiarized song lyrics for competitions, used photos he did not take to win a photo competition and even won an award given by the head of Korean Intellectual Property Office after copying an online report. His main motivation was the prize money. However, he said he was also looking to find a job after his discharge from the Army because of injuries.

Meanwhile, a call for the creation of a database to check plagiarism in the literary community is being made.

“If there is no equal opportunity, no one will try (for the awards),” said Jeon. “The government needs to protect creators‘ rights and create a system to maintain order in the literary community.”

By Lim Jang-won (