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Plagiarism suspicions raised on novelist Shin Kyung-sook

Renowned South Korean novelist Shin Kyung-sook is suspected of having copied the titles of two poems by a local writer for her short stories.

Yonhap News Agency found on Monday that "Footprints of Heavy Bird" and "Away, on the Endless Road," the titles of two of her short stories published in the March-April 1990 issue of the "Korean Literature" magazine and the autumn issue of "Munye Joongang" in 1992, were identical to those of two poems published in 1987 and 1989 by Yoon Hee-sang, a poet.

Shin Kyung-sook (Yonhap)
Shin Kyung-sook (Yonhap)

Shin could not be reached for comment as she, according to the Changbi Publishers representing her, currently stays in an undisclosed place in order to write a novel.

Yoon refused to have an interview with Yonhap but wrote in an e-mail reply that "There is more pain arising from the failure of authors to reveal the source of their work than thought."

Shin has come under growing questions over her literary creativity since novelist Lee Eung-jun wrote in an article published on Huffington Post Korea early last week 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.

One day after the suspicion was raised, Shin denied the allegation and said she will not respond to the claim.

Hyun Tac-soo, a local university professor in literature, later filed a complaint with prosecutors, asking them to determine whether Shin partly copied passages in "Patriotism" and Luise Rinser's "The Middle of Life" for "Legend" and the 2008 novel "Please Look After Mom," respectively.

There have been claims in the domestic literary world that Shin's "Please Look After Mom" and "Somewhere A Phone Is Ringing For Me" (2010) have some parts taken from the Rinser's novel.

The allegation sent a shockwave to 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 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. (Yonhap)

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