Friday, November 26, 2010

Disney Sues Arirang Over Korea Coverage

Kim Yu-na
Disney Corporation, the American purveyor of wholesome family values, has lodged a lawsuit against Arirang in Seoul District Court, claiming that its relentlessly positive portrayal of Korea is, in effect, presenting a 'Disneyfied' view of the country, infringing its copyright.

Arirang, which is officially owned by large chaebols on a not-for-profit basis, but which many people consider to be the propaganda arm of the Government secretly funded by the Ministry of Culture, broadcasts in English to inform foreigners of the superior nature of South Korea. Arirang's sister organization, the Korean Central News Agency, provides a similar service for North Korea, but it is not part of the lawsuit.

The Ministry of Culture have denied its Arirang unit has infringed Disney's look and feel in any way, stating that it portrays both sides of life in Korea, good and bad, by having a mix of programs showing Koreans and foreigners. However, foreigners are only allowed on Arirang if they say good things about Korea.

The Ministry is planning to countersue Disney, claiming that it was Disney that modeled its output on Korean life, not vice-versa. Privately, they are said to be readying a test case against a prominent Disney movie, which is believed to be a fictionalized reworking of the Arirang classic "Kim Yu-na and the Seven Migrant Workers".

Further cases may follow. Arirang believes the plots of other Korean movies, such as "Gangnam Girl and the Native-English Teacher", "One Hundred and One Meat Dishes" and "Pirates of the East Sea: The Curse of the Japanese" may also have been copied by Disney.