Novelist Shin Kyung-sook apologizes: ‘plagiarism allegations appear justified’

June 23, 2015
Shin Kyung-sook (Yonhap)

Shin Kyung-sook (Yonhap)

Renowned South Korean novelist Shin Kyung-sook, embroiled in a plagiarism scandal, broke her silence Tuesday and issued an apology.

“No matter how hard I try, I cannot remember ever reading the Japanese book in question, but the plagiarism allegations seem justified upon closer review and now I am in state where I cannot even trust my own memories,” she said.

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.

“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 western world for “Please Look After Mom,” which sold about 2 million copies at home and was translated into 19 different languages.