In what has got to be one of the biggest year end shockers in c-ent, two of the industry’s popular screenwriters Guo Jingming and Yu Zheng has everyone all agog with their apologies to authors whose work they’ve been found guilty of plagiarising!
Over the years, both Guo Jingming and Yu Zheng have been plagued with various plagiarism allegations which neither author deigned to acknowledge. In 2006, an official court ruling went in favour of author Zhuang Yu whose book In and Out of the Circle 圈里圈外 Guo Jingming copied from for Never Flowers in Never Dreams 梦里花落知多少. Meanwhile, Yu Zheng was the recipient of a similar kind of verdict after Chiung Yao slapped him with a suit for infringing on her book Plum Blossom Star for his Palace 3 drama. Although both screenwriters financially compensated both authors as stipulated in their verdicts, none of them ever actually apologised.
New Year, New Me?
Maybe not because talks of an industry boycott have been brewing after 156 people from both the television and film industries jointly signed a letter condemning these “intellectual thieves” for failing to acknowledge their transgressions. Not only that, the letter also says they should never be allowed to mentor young impressionable newbies nor should they ever be role models for the next generation. The combined pressure from the industry and the heavy coverage in the news seems to be enough to have dragged out apologies from the two though.
In his statement on December 31, Guo Jingming says he wants to issue a long overdue apology to Zhuang Yu for infringing upon her novel In and Out of the Circle. The screenwriter says in the past, he avoided talking about plagiarism because it was like an incurable wound he didn’t want to tear open let alone face. However, he wants to face them now and apologised not only to Zhuang Yu but also to original authors. “I’m sorry, I have been such a poor example. Let me serve as a lesson, reject plagiarism and honour the value of creative writing .” Guo Jingming also offered to pay Zhuang Yu all royalties and proceeds from the book.
As of press date, author Zhuang Yu has graciously acknowledged his apology but countered with a different suggestion with regards to his offer. She suggested instead to put the proceeds towards the creation of an anti-plagiarism fund to help authors whose works have been plagiarised to defend their rights. A suggestion Guo Jingming seems to be quite amenable to.
Yu Zheng’s Apology
Meanwhile, in an apology which came hours after Guo Jingming published his, Yu Zheng says it took him up to six years to own up to his mistake not because “he’s unwilling to admit the error of his ways but because he lacked the courage.” He also says that “teacher Chiung Yao” has been his idol since he was little and that it was his biggest dream to create a story like Chiung Yao.
Yu Zheng further adds he hopes to have the opportunity to apologise to her personally one day. Like Guo Jingming, Yu Zheng also apologised to original authors and says he hopes his experience will serve as a warning to every creator to respect originality and respect the law.
Despite the apologies, many people still question their sincerity especially since it came at the heels of boycott threats from the industry. Admittedly, the timing is a bit suspicious … Guo Jingming’s apology came fourteen years too late whilst Yu Zheng’s six years after the official court ruling that required a public apology from him. Why only now?
Whatever the case, for both Zhuang Yu and Chiung Yao at least, the sense of vindication this must have given them is probably the best New Year’s day present they received this 2021.