Asia Pacific

South Korean novelist Shin Kyung-sook admits to plagiarizing Japanese author Yukio Mishima


One of South Korea’s most influential writers has admitted to plagiarizing well-known Japanese author Yukio Mishima in a short story she published a decade ago.

Shin Kyung-sook said in an interview with the Kyunghyang Shinmun newspaper Tuesday that she will ask her publisher to remove the story “Legend” from future editions of a compilation of short stories published in 1994.

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 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 acknowledged the similarity of the passages and said her accuser was right to question the honesty of her work. She said she doesn’t remember reading “Patriotism” but added that she no longer feels certain about her memory.

“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,” she said.

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.