Extra! Korea

March 21, 2009

Wonder Girls sue for intellectual property theft

Filed under: celebrities, intellectual property, music, rapid cultural change — extrakorea @ 11:08 am

The Wonder Girls, one of South Korea’s most popular and successful music groups, plans to fight against plagiarism of its hit, “Nobody,” by groups from Cambodia and other Asian countries.

South Korea’s top female pop group Wondergirls plans to take legal action against several overseas entertainment firms for plagiarizing its hit song “Nobody,” the group’s agent said Friday.

“Several Asian entertainment companies in China, Thailand and Cambodia have been making illegal profits off of ‘Nobody’ by remaking the song without permission and copying the costumes and dance moves. This is going beyond a tolerable level,” Seoul’s JYP Entertainment said in a press release.

You can see the Wonder Cambodians here (Hat Tip) and you used to be able to see them here, but the footage has been removed.
In a similar way, Chinese companies have made copycat phones of Samsung models (see here, here, here, and here).
This is an example of the shoe being on the other foot. Now that South Korea is, officially, an advanced, developed country, it is increasingly becoming the victim of intellectual property theft by developing nations. However, until recently, it was Korea committing flagrant acts of copyright infringement.
You can find chocolate bars called “Kic Ker,” a blatant copy of the more well-known Kit Kat (see here and here).
Also, there are a few coffee shop chains whose shops and logos look similar to Starbucks (see here and here). Starbucks took Starpreya, the one with the logo most similar to its own, to court. The judge ruled against Starbucks, claiming that the two logos were not similar enough (see here, here, here, and here. (Look at this picture and try to tell me that they don’t look similar. There is also an attempt to explain here.) A Korean newspaper subsequently announced that the nation of Korea had scored a great victory against the foreign barbarians. (However, when one Korean company copied another, they were dealt with appropriately.)
Two sayings come to mind. One is “What goes around comes around.” Let’s see how they feel when other countries steal their ideas and declare victories when their judges rule against them. The other saying is “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.” Koreans have been very keen, almost obsessed, with becoming a developed country. Let’s see if they enjoy it as much as they imagined.


I feel that I should clarify. Aside from sharing the same nationality, the Wonder Girls and Samsung have nothing to do with the people responsible for Starpreya and the Kic Ker chocolate bars. When I said, “Let’s see if they enjoy it …” I was voicing something like a rhetorical question. I didn’t really mean to suggest that I condone having their ideas stolen. However, there has definitely been a mentality of “succeed by any means necessary” here.
I recall a program that aired on the Arirang television channel. Even though it’s supposedly aimed at foreign viewers, most of them can’t stand it due to its laughably ham-fisted propaganda. (For example: Kimchi is healthy, delicious, good for your health, and tastes great. It’s also healthy, prevents SARS, and cures cancer and AIDS.”) This program described the story of the first Korean to produce fiberglass. He went to Japan for a business conference. At the time, he didn’t know, exactly, how to make fiberglass. During a break, he saw a door marked: “Keep out. Authorized personnel only.” He goes in and has a good look at the equipment before the Japanese catch him and scold him. The program lauded him as a hero for committing what basically amounted to industrial espionage.
In Korea, cheating on tests is called “cunning,” and it’s only bad if you are caught, and that’s because you were foolish or careless enough to get caught. If you get away with it, then it proves that you are clever.

1 Comment »

  1. […] ripping off Korea Filed under: intellectual property, music — extrakorea @ 1:07 am In a previous post, I mentioned that a Thai group was being sued by the Wonder Girls for intellectual property theft. […]

    Pingback by Thailand keeps on ripping off Korea « Extra! Korea — May 3, 2009 @ 1:08 am

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