The Korea Herald


Cartoonists say govt. order for ‘Black Rubber Shoes’ is not enough

By Hwang Joo-young

Published : July 20, 2023 - 17:47

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

A group of comics and cartoon artists raised concerns Thursday over the government’s recent corrective order aimed at handling the “Black Rubber Shoes” incident, saying that it lacks any power to hold the publisher responsible.

The Artist Lee Yoo-young Incident Task Force said Thursday through a statement they “welcome the corrective order as it confirms the ‘Black Rubber Shoes’ contract was unfair.” However, the group is worried that the order lacks validity.

“Black Rubber Shoes” is a cartoon series originally created by Lee Yoo-young and his brother Lee Woo-jin. The two brothers signed a contract with the publishing house Hyungseul, which took a share of the cartoon's copyright.

The task force, which was formed after Lee Yoo-young died by suicide in March, explained that the government’s order will do little to correct or effectively regulate the publisher's misconduct, as it only imposes fines of 5 million won ($3,955) and a three-year ban on bidding for government business projects.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism released the corrective order Monday, ordering Hyungseul to pay the brothers a fair amount of the profits the publishing house earned and grant them copyright royalties of any secondary works of “Black Rubber Shoes.”

The task force added that the corrective order had no mention of any "obstruction to creative activities" on the part of Hyungseul, a key point the group had emphasized when reporting the “Black Rubber Shoes” incident to the Culture Ministry.

The task force explained that such an omission may create precedence for other business contractors to overlook any obstruction of artists’ creative activities as non-illicit matters.

In 2019, Hyungseul, the publisher of “Black Rubber Shoes,” sued Lee Yoo-young and his brother for publishing “Black Rubber Shoes” content without agreement from the company.

According to reports, Lee Yoo-young struggled amid the legal disputes with the publisher, which also obstructed him from continuing any secondary works of “Black Rubber Shoes.”

“The ‘Black Rubber shoes’ incident remains far from over, as Cartoonist Lee Woo-jin and the bereaved family still cannot continue (to produce) any secondary works (of ‘Black Rubber Shoes’)," said the Artist Lee Yoo-young Incident Task Force.