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Now, Just Where Do These Similarities End...?

2006/03/22 Source

By Kim Tae-jong
Staff Reporter

The latest local comedy film "See You After School" and last year's blockbuster "Welcome to Dongmakgol" are now under fire for alleged plagiarism, raising the question: Do the two films coincidentally have something in common with other movies or did their filmmakers simply steal the ideas?

Latest local comedy "See You After School", left, is now accused of plagiarism due to the similarity of its plot with that of the 1987 American comedy "Three O'Clock High".
"See You After School", which opened March 16, is about a high school student who finds himself in trouble as he is recognized, mistakenly, as a bully in the new school he transfers to, and receives a fight challenge from the original top dog in the school.

Some movie fans claim its storyline is almost the same as that of the 1987 American film "Three O'Clock High" as both films revolve around a weak boy who transfers to a new school and is mistaken for a bully. And the whole event occurs in one day at the school.

But the film's production company, Cineon, strongly denies the allegations arguing that many parts of the storyline can seem to be similar, but they are universal issues that can be witnessed at school.

"The main theme came from the beginning stage of the film's production when staff members tried to come up with ideas", said Kim Ji-yeon, assistant manager of Cineon. "Actually, many people have an experience that they were ostracized or bullied by strong mates at school".

The case of "Welcome to Dongmakgol" is different to "See You After School".

"Welcome to Dongmakgol" is accused of plagiarism because of certain scenes that are similar to those from Japanese comedy "Swing Girls", which was made in 2004 but will open here on March 23.

"Welcome to Dongmakgol" is about soldiers from different sides during the Korean War who find refuge in a mysterious village, and "Swing Girls" tells about high school girls who organize a jazz band.

However, movie buffs point out that the two films have the same scenes where characters encounter a wild boar and are chased by it, but in the end, they kill the beast together in a hilarious way.

Apart from the idea of the scene, the main criticism comes from the cinematographic techniques and camera work as the scenes in both films were shown with a series of stop or slow motions combined.

Regarding the allegation, Bae Jong, director of "Welcome to Dongmakgol", once told a local film magazine that he was only able to see the Japanese film when he completed his film.

"I was even asked if the scene was a homage to `Swing Girls', and I think people can find the two scenes similar but I didn't even have a chance to see the film before I completed my film", Park said.

The issue of plagiarism often arises, but there seems to be no clear definition and regulation about it. Yet experts say filmmakers should be more careful about the issue of originality.

"It's almost impossible to have a hundred percent original idea, and the chances are high that you might be falsely accused", said popular scenario writer Sim San. "Once you are accused of plagiarism, the damage is all yours, so you should be really careful".

"If you suffer from the lack of ideas but if you find something interesting from other movies, you can buy its copyright and adapt its story for your own film. That's more clever and safer", Sim said.

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