South Korean professors charged over alleged plagiarism scheme

Prosecutors accuse academics of colluding with publishers to boost their standing and sell more books

December 15, 2015
Scales of justice on courtroom table

Close to 200 university professors in South Korea are to stand trial over charges that they fraudulently put their names to books written by other academics as part of a racket with publishing companies to sell more publications.

The Uijeongbu District Prosecutors’ Office, north of the capital Seoul, has indicted 179 professors as well as five publisher employees on charges of violating copyright laws and breach of trust, reported the Yonhap news agency yesterday.

According to prosecutors, the indicted professors are accused of putting their names to the books in order to improve their academic standing before assessments by their universities.  

Publishers allegedly went along with the scheme in order to help sell “unpopular” science or maths books, “while the original authors also overlooked the practice to maintain good relations with publishing companies”, the news agency reported.

This is the first time prosecutors have seriously clamped down on such schemes, which are “a common phenomenon in local academia”, Yonhap reported.

“Professors and publishers have repeatedly republished books by just changing the names of the authors and a few words since the 1980s,” it said.

“The professors face charges of writing their name after changing the authors’ names on the books and publishing the books as if they were their own,” a prosecutor investigating the case was quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, five employees from four different publishing companies have been indicted by the prosecutors.

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