tvN’s “Hwayugi: A Korean Odyssey” has been involved in a plagiarism controversy. On March 6, a web novel writer Ttangbyeol (Jung Eun Sook) posted on her personal blog pointing out the similarities between her novel ‘Aeyugi’ and tvN’s television series ‘Hwayugi: A Korean Odyssey.”

The internet novel ‘Aeyugi,’ published in 2015, is based on the original novel of “Journey to the West.” In her blog post, Ttangbyeol mentioned the similarities in the characters and the settings in the plots of ‘Aeyugi’ and tvN’s ‘Hwayugi.’

Ttangbyeol added a comparison chart that listed out the similarities between the two. Such similarities included Sam Jang being a female character instead of a male and characters being possessed in the plots.

Ttangbyeol said, “I realize how difficult it is to declare plagiarism due to the complicated copyright laws in Korea. However, does it make it okay for someone to use another person’s original content? You may avoid legal complications, but it is a duty as a writer to prohibit oneself from committing plagiarism.”

At the end, Ttangbyeol added, “you may get a motif from reading a content, but what is the borderline between using it as a motif and copying? Hopefully this will give you a chance to clearly draw the line between the two acts.”

On the same day, the Hong sisters, writers of ‘Hwayugi’ responded to the accusation by claiming that they have never heard of ‘Aeyugi’ before. In addition, the production team of ‘Hwayugi,’ the Dragon Studio, strongly appealed that ‘Hwayugi’ was Hong sisters’ original content.

Hong Jung-eun and Hong Mi-ran explained the plans for ‘Hwayugi’ had begun before ‘Aeyugi’ was published. They wrote their first fantasy drama with “My Girlfriend is a Gumiho” in 2010, continuing with “Master’s Sun” in 2014. They said, “at the end of “Master’s Sun,” we had plans to come up with another fantasy work, and there are news interviews about those plans.”

Hong sisters added “in detail, we planned to write a fantasy that involves ghosts and monsters, and that “Journey to the West” would be our motif. The directors and producers who were in the meetings are willing to come forward as witnesses if needed.”

They continued on and said “the first synopsis for ‘Hwayugi’ came out on March 20, 2017. Since ‘Aeyugi’ was published in 2015, please verify if there were any readers during that period who were connected to us.”

Original Article (1), (2), (3)
Translated by Dasol Kim