Author Shin Kyung Sook Admits to Plagiarism

kpride, June 23, 2015, 9:31 a.m.

Breaking her silence on allegations that she partly plagiarized the Korean translation of a Japanese short story, renowned novelist Shin Kyung-sook admitted she plagiarized and apologized to her readers Tuesday.

The apology came a week after novelist Lee Eung-jun wrote in an article published on Huffington Post Korea that Shin's "Legend," a short story collection published in 1996, included plagiarisms of the Korean translation of "Patriotism" (1961) by the late Japanese writer Yukio Mishima.

The 52-year-old writer denied the allegation the following day and has since kept silence on the issue. "After comparing the sentences in question in Yukio Mishima's novel 'Patriotism' and those in 'Legend' several times, I thought that it might be right to raise the plagiarism allegation," Shin said in an interview with the Kyunghyang Shinmun newspaper.

"I desperately tried to recall my memory only to find that I haven't read 'Patriotism,' but now I'm in a situation where even I can't believe my own memory." She then made a public apology. "I sincerely apologize to the literary writer who raised the issue as well as all my acquaintances, and above all, many readers who read my novels.... Everything is my fault."

The novelist said she will discuss removing "Legend" from a book of short stories with the book's publisher and halt all activities but writing to take time for self-reflection. "No matter how hard I think, however, I can't announce the end of my writing career," Shin said, adding that she cannot live without writing because, for her, literature equals life.

The plagiarism allegation has sent a shockwave through the local literary circle because Shin is not only one of the most popular novelists in Korea but also one of the few Korean authors who has gained international fame. She is best known in the West for "Please Look After Mom," which sold about 2 million copies at home and was translated in 19 countries.

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