The hit screenwriter duo Hong sisters, consisting of Hong Jung-eun and Hong Mi-ran, finally received some respite from the plagiarism charges filed against them for their 2017 tvN drama Hwayugi (also known as A Korean Odyssey), starring Lee Seung-gi, Oh Yeon-seo, and Cha Seung-won.
The court recently ruled against the plaintiff, an internet novel writer called Ttangyeol (real name Jung Eun-sook), who had stated that the drama was plagiarized from her web novel Aeyugi. The court ruled that while there exist a few similarities between the two works, they are not enough to constitute plagiarism.
The Hong sisters had argued in court that they did not know of the web novel’s existence until the complaint was made, and even if they did, Hwayugi is a completely different work, with themes, characters, and structures that do not match Aeyugi’s at all.
On February 15, representatives of Hwayugi said in a press release that the drama was inspired by the classic Chinese novel Journey to the West—on which Aeyugi was also based—which has had many media adaptations over the years, each with unique settings, and thus the plagiarism case was baseless.
The writers made a statement saying that they hoped the unfounded plagiarism charges against them will give everyone a chance to recognize the harms of claiming copyright infringement in artists. They said the case had brought them a lot of pain and damages and announced plans for suing the plaintiff for libel.
It was in March 2018 when Jung Eun-sook posted a blog entry outlining the similarities between her work and Hwayugi. Five months later, she announced through another blog post that she took legal action against the Hong sisters, who consistently denied the allegations and said that plans for Hwayugi had begun even before the publishing of Aeyugi in 2015.
The Hong sisters are among the most famous screenwriters in Korea, having written popular romantic-comedies such as My Girl (2005), You’re Beautiful (2009), My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho (2010), The Greatest Love (2011) and Master’s Sun (2013). Their newest project, Hotel del Luna, is reportedly courting Yeo Jin-goo (The Crowned Clown) and IU (My Mister) to play the lead roles.