The Korea Herald


Culture Ministry orders ‘Black Rubber Shoes’ publisher to pay original creators

By Hwang Joo-young

Published : July 18, 2023 - 18:49

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Scene from the Scene from the "Black Rubber Shoes" movie released in 2022 (Saehan Production)

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism on Monday ordered a local publishing firm to pay a valid share of the profits of the cartoon series “Black Rubber Shoes" to the original cartoon artists.

According to the ministry's corrective order, publisher Hyungseul should pay a fair amount of the profits the publisher earned to "Black Rubber Shoes" cartoonist Lee Yoo-young and his brother and co-creator Lee Woo-jin. “While reviewing the contract between the two copyright holders of 'Black Rubber Shoes,' we have found unfair content that goes against the law regarding artists’ rights protection,” Culture Minister Park Bo-gyoon said through a press release Monday.

In March, the ministry formed an investigation team in response to a petition from the Korean Cartoonists Association, some two weeks after Lee Yoo-young died by suicide. Lee's family said he was having a rough time due to legal proceedings with the publisher over the copyright for "Black Rubber Shoes."

According to the ministry, the publisher has not shared proper profits from any secondary works of “Black Rubber Shoes” with the two brothers, claiming the original business contract signed in 2008 doesn’t include such secondary works.

The original cartoonists were paid a total of 12 million won ($9,200) since the cartoons first showcase in 1992, although “Black Rubber Shoes” was since developed into various secondary works, including an animated TV series.

The contract heavily favored the publisher, granting them exclusive business rights to "Black Rubber Shoes" while burdening the cartoonists with unfair penalties, according to the ministry.

The ministry directed the publisher to amend the original business contract with the cartoonists in a manner that ensures profits derived from any secondary works of the cartoon and the original copyright royalty, including any potential future profits that might accrue, go to the original creators.