Qiong Yao Accuses Yu Zheng of Plagiarism

Qiong Yao vs. Yu Zheng

Qiong Yao vs. Yu Zheng

To no one’s surprise, producer-screenwriter Yu Zheng is being accused yet again of plagiarism. This time, the charge comes from well-known novelist Qiong Yao, who claims that his currently airing drama, Palace 3 (宫锁连城), copied her novel-turned-1993-series Plum Blossom Scar (梅花烙). The event then spurred on a number of accusations toward Yu Zheng for copying varying works, including by former scriptwriters.

Qiong Yao, whom readers may know best as the creator of Princess Returning Pearl/My Fair Princess (还珠格格), published an open letter to SARFT on Sina Weibo on Tuesday afternoon. In this lengthy indictment, she writes that she was preparing to remake Plum Blossom Scar, with an anticipated 2015 broadcast, only to discover that Palace 3 was a copy of her own story.

The similarities between the two series have not gone unnoticed by viewers. Even Palace 3 actress Shirley Dai commented that Yu Zheng’s work was born out of Plum Blossom Scar, a scandal that caused a fallout between Yu Zheng and Dai. Both plots involve a switcheroo of the two main characters as a result of a preference for boys, and a similar love triangle between the three leads, although Yu Zheng’s series branches away then by doing a remix of Painted Skin II by having the two lead females switch skins.

Qiong Yao claims that this incident has caused her to fall ill from anger and that she has stopped all work, including a screenplay for her own adaptation, for which she has already completed 25 episodes. Her daughter-in-law, who serves as the manager of Qiong Yao’s mainland-based production company New Image, contacted Hunan TV, the almost exclusive broadcaster of the company, to ask the channel to halt the broadcast of Palace 3, but it was to no avail.  Qiong Yao also asked her supporters to boycott Palace 3, in order to protest Yu Zheng’s lack of respect for copyright.

Less than two hours after Qiong Yao posted her letter, Yu Zheng published his reply on Sina Weibo, saying he was shocked and confused by her accusations. He claims that he grew up watching her dramas and that he has often collaborated with New Image and supported Qiong Yao’s favorite actors. In fact, one of the leads of Palace 3 is Madina Memet, a New Image artist.

Yu Zheng goes on to say that Palace 3 was originally meant to be based off Zhang Ting‘s 2000 drama The Switch (偷龙转凤). However, he didn’t think that the story was suitable for a remake, so he brought the mistaken-birth storyline under the Palace trademark. More importantly, he claims that he submitted the screenplay of Palace 3 to New Image so he could get approval before beginning the casting process.

In response to this, New Image’s management director, Fu Zhuoyu, stated that Qiong Yao did not in fact see a copy of Palace 3‘s screenplay, since she is not in charge of overseeing the scripts that New Image artists accept. Moreover, the screenplays submitted to actors and their managers are not complete.

“Please believe that this is just a coincidence,” concludes Yu Zheng in his post. After all, he says, art is supposed to be carried on and developed, and it’s natural that people would emulate Qiong Yao, seeing as she is the originator of Chinese romance dramas. Hey, even the earliest Korean dramas copied her!

Screenwriter Li Yaling, who collaborated with Yu Zheng for Pretty Maid (大丫鬟), posted on Weibo that she had previously rejected a screenplay proposal from Yu Zheng, who wanted her to combine the storylines of Plum Blossom Scar and Rouge Snow (胭脂雪). She also wrote that Yu Zheng once claimed that his dramas can’t be considered plagiarism as long as the copied portion doesn’t exceed 20% of the entire work. It’s to be noted, however, Li Yaling herself has been accused of plagiarism.

Yu Zheng has previously plagiarized the works of the original for Schemes of Beauties , but paid the novelist afterwards.

So, for those of you who have watched both Plum Blossom Scar and Palace 3, what do you think? Are you #teamqiongyao or #teamyuzheng?

Sources: 1, 2

31 thoughts on “Qiong Yao Accuses Yu Zheng of Plagiarism

  1. I personally don’t think there is an issue on copyright. I watched the Qiongyao’s “Meihualao” about 20 years ago and I’m following up the “Palace Liancheng” currently to do the comparison. If the main stories from the 2 dramas look similar, because back to the Qing dynasty, there could be many tragedies because of the similar reasons. The “Palace Liancheng” developed in its onw way with different details, although it starts from the relatively same situations.

  2. Qiong Yao did a phone interview with Sina: http://ent.sina.com.cn/v/m/2014-04-21/00124129886.shtml Here are some highlights:

    – Qiong Yao hasn’t read Yu Zheng’s reply, but she knows the gist of it because her daughter-in-law and secretary talked to her about it.

    – She says Yu Zheng has copied from five of her other works as well, though not as egregiously as he did with Plum Blossom Scar. There are netizens gathering evidence for her.

    – After the incident, she’s had to rely on sleeping pills in order to get rest.

    – About ten years ago, Qiong Yao sued a mainland publisher who took a magazine article she wrote about HZGG and used it without her permission and without credit. The case took four years, and the court ruled that the publisher owed her 200,000 RMB, which wasn’t even enough to cover the lawyer fees. However, the publisher refused to pay, which meant Qiong Yao had to file another lawsuit. About halfway through the case, her lawyer passed away, and Qiong Yao decided to not continue with the case.

    – As a result, she doesn’t know if she will sue Yu Zheng because she doesn’t have the energy or the time to go through such a strenuous lawsuit again.

  3. I’m not a big fan of both of them but I will side with Qiong Yao in this matter, at least Qiong Yao writes her own stories! I was entertained by this “scandal” and Yu Zheng had it coming, serves him right. I just don’t understand how he could still continue releasing dramas that infringe so many copyrights and yet, the officials are not doing anything about it. It always seems to me that SARFT always approve of his dramas pretty quickly in comparison to other c-dramas.

  4. What’s funny with Yu Zheng is that when he’s supposed to be writing original shows, he “borrows” so much from other people’s works. When he’s adapting from an existing novel, he deviates from it so much that the only recognizable bits are the characters’ names.

  5. Have not seen the drama but I am not surprised if Yu Zheng did plagiarize Qiong Yao’s work since we all know that Gong 1 is so much similar to BBJX and I am super confident to say that he did also copy the plot from Hana Yori Dango too. Yu Zheng is famous for plagiarism and twisting original story as he did to Jin Rong’s works.

    • Qiong Yao was very popular throughout East/SE Asia in the early 90’s, so I wouldn’t be too surprised.
      The two Yu Zheng pointed out were that “My Girl” was similar to 梦的衣裳 Cape of Dreams (male lead hires female lead to dress up as his sister to please grandparents), and 《人鱼小姐》 vs 《情深深雨蒙蒙 Romance in the Rain》.

      • Ironically that K-drama got a Taiwanese remake under the title Rainbow Sweetheart. So it looks like no one in Taiwan has accused SBS of copying off her story.

  6. Gong 1 seems to have been based on BBJX, albeit a cheesier version of BBJX. I stopped watching after about 10 episodes because it was terrible. I have tried to watch a few other YuZheng dramas because I like the actors, but haven’t been able to finish a single one.

  7. Actually it’s not a surprise for me.
    Yet with the first Gong YuZheng copied a lot. When I started to saw Gong I notice that the first 8 episodes were incredible similar with meteor garden, the famous taiwanese idol drama based on the japanese manga Hanayori Dango.
    I’m not a fan of Qiong Yao and I don’t know how much he copied from her work, but YuZheng must be punished of all his copyright infringement.

    • I think it took scenes from Meteor Shower, but that’s very widespread amongst drama world and I think not as a big as an issue. The bigger issue with his stories is when he takes storylines from other stories, which I think is actually liable for lawsuits. Gong I is mostly a mash-up of all the Qing timetravelling series.

      • When you say Meteor shower do you mean the one from the mailand china or the taiwanese one? Because I was referring to the taiwanese Meteor Garden and I’m sure it’s not just scenes, but entire dialogs and part of storyline.
        I watched only eight episode of gong 1 so I don’t know how the story turns after. But these episodes are pratically a copycat of MG with a different setting. I remember it was one of the reason I didn’t continue the drama.

        • Those two have the same plots…

          That’s what I meant. I can’t remember the English word, but the Chinese word is 梗, which is very commonly copied but hard to reinforce in the drama world since scenes are so commonly reused. The only cases of copyright cases have won usually include word-for-word dialogue or relationships plotline similarities. So for example, that thing about tears not falling upside down would be hard to sue. But I feel like Qiong Yao might be able to?

          • I do know the two have the same plot since both are based on the same manga lol. But, actually the two drama are pretty different in details.

            Gong 1 has not only scenes, but also characters and plot similarities with MG. If I remember correctly there are also some indentical dialogues. But MG is loosely based on hanayori dango so I think it’s matter of the editor of the manga to do a sue against yuzheng if they are interested.

            I need to admit that yuzheng is pretty clever. He never copy only from one work. He always mixes different works and then adds something original.

            Specifically In this case I don’t know if qiongyao’s accuses are legit cause I doesn’t watch nor gong3 netheir meihualao. But I hope qiongyao can win this case, not because I have something against yuzheng. I just hope through this lesson he can start to respect others works.

  8. I haven’t been watching the drama so I don’t know about the storyline, but the drama still in this post certainly reminds me of a certain other palace based drama :p

  9. I thought that that photo of Chiung Yao must be old, because I knew she was in her 70s…
    It was taken in December. This woman is turning 76 on Sunday, but she looks 30 years younger. x _ x

    And I think 麦迪娜·买买提 is transliterated to Madina Memet? Or Mehmet? It is the Turkic variant of Muhammad, but that’s a bit like referring to Ivan the Terrible as “John the Terrible,” or something to that effect.

  10. There are some similarities in terms of the switch, the scar (well in this case, it’s a birthmark), and how the girl falls in love with the guy. Plus Lu Yi’s character that marries the princess and the princess finds ways to torture Yuan Shan Shan’s character, etc. However, later on, I believe Gong 3 deviates from Plum Blossom Scar. The drama is complete crack for me right now. But that’s because I have a soft spot for Gao Yun Xiang and Lu Yi, lol.

    • Although given that we are just short of half-way through already, I really don’t understand why it’s still called “Palace.” Not much of the action so far has actually taken place in the palace. I would think “Turmoil in the Fucha Household” or something to that sort would be more suitable…

        • I probably shouldn’t speak too quickly. You just never know with Yu Zheng… Maybe the rest of the drama will take place in the palace after Lian Cheng finds out the love of her life isn’t actually Heng Tai but the emperor with his… err…. mature affection… XD

        • I’m just glad there’s less characters that probably have schizophrenia as well as a host of other mental illnesses since they’re just soulless husks that exist simply to further the plot/increase the drama and tension/deepen the serious $h;t the leads have to miraculously dig themselves out of…

          I swear some of the characters in his other dramas had a different personality/changed ideas and sides for every color on their wardrobe… DX

  11. Wait, I finally found out what that drama my mom watched when I was really little was The Switch!~
    Haven’t seen Plum Blossom Scar, but Gong 3’s premise does seem very similar to the Switch…a very important scar, girl found by someone in a brothel…:P

    • omg my parents watched The Switch when I was little too! I just recently rewatched the whole thing… it’s such a funny series. But I wonder if people also thought The Switch was copying Plum Blossom Scar when it first aired.

  12. I’ve never seen Plum Blossom Scar before so I don’t know how much alike Palace 3 will be but if it’s just the “switch” storyline, that itself isn’t very original either.

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