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?