Renowned Korean novelist Shin Kyung-sook has admitted she “partly” plagiarized the Korean translation of a Japanese short story. She made a public apology Tuesday. Shin is best known in the West for her book “Please Look After Mom,” which sold about 2 million copies in Korea and was translated into 19 languages.
The plagiarism allegation has sent a shock wave through the local literary community, because Shin is not only popular at home but also one of the few Korean authors who has gained international fame.
The apology came a week after novelist Lee Eung-jun accused Shin of plagiarism and published an article in 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 novelist Yukio Mishima.
At first, the 52-year-old writer denied the allegation, and has since kept silent on the issue.
She broke her silence in an interview with the Kyunghyang Shinmun newspaper, where she said, “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 acknowledge the plagiarism allegation.”
“I couldn’t remember whether I actually read 'Patriotism,' but now I'm in a situation where even I can't believe my own memory,” added Shin.
“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 the short story compilation with the book's publisher. She will also halt all activities and take a hiatus for self-reflection.
“No matter how hard I think, I can't stop my writing career,” Shin said, adding that for her, literature equals life.