SEOUL: One of South Korea’s most influential writers admitted Tuesday to plagiarizing a well-known Japanese author in a short story she published almost a decade ago.
Shin Kyung-sook, 52, said in an interview with the Kyunghyang Shinmun newspaper that she will ask her publisher to remove the story “Legend” from future editions of a compilation of short stories published in 1996.
Shin won the 2011 Man Asian Literary Prize for her internationally-acclaimed novel “Please Look After Mom.” The plagiarism accusations have shocked South Korea’s literature scene, where she has been one of the few commercially proven authors in a country that increasingly reads fewer books.
A fellow South Korean novelist said last week that a passage in “Legend” was similar to the writing in “Patriotism,” a 1961 short story by Japanese author Yukio Mishima. Others later agreed. Both passages describe the sexual awakening of a young couple.
Shin’s publisher initially denied the allegations, saying that the author informed the company that she had never read “Patriotism.”
In the interview with the newspaper, Shin maintained that she doesn’t remember reading “Patriotism,” but added that she no longer feels certain about her memory.
“After comparing the sentences from Yukio Mishima’s Patriotism and Legend several times, I now think that [my accusers] were right to raise the issue of plagiarism,” she said.
“I offer a sincere apology to the literary figures who raised the issue, all the people around me and, most of all, to the many readers of my stories.”
Shin said she would take time off for self-reflection, but stressed that she will continue to write stories. Shin didn’t respond to calls by The Associated Press for comment.