Singer Park Sae-byul makes statement in defense of You Hee-yul

Singer Park Sae-byul [ANTENNA MUSIC]

Singer Park Sae-byul who is represented by Antenna Music, has spoken up in defense of You Hee-yul, the founder of her label who recently came under fire for alleged plagiarism.

Park uploaded a post on her social media on Tuesday titled, “A very personal opinion about plagiarism.” She said she hesitated about making a public comment on the issue as “plagiarism was a topic that I thought about deeply for at least five years during my ph.D period.”

“Also, honestly, I don’t think there’s anyone in Korea who has agonized on this issue as much as I did as a musician and an engineering major,” she said. “I agonized a lot about how to define the similarities in music, what creativity is, what art is and what originality is.”

She went on to explain the universal definition of plagiarism and how to define art.

“All artists in the world have been influenced by previous artists of their time,” she wrote. “If you look at the masterpieces, there are certainly paintings that are similar historically but all the creative processes of development are recognized as aesthetically valuable in art history.”

“So many people have listened to David Foster and Ryuichi Sakamoto’s music. But not all of them can make the music of Toy,” she added. Toy is the name of You’s one-man band that he created in 1994. He released several albums under Toy in collaboration with various artists.

On June 15, You came under fire after a fan of Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto claimed that You had “ripped-off” Sakamoto’s "Aqua" (1999) for his song "A Very Private Night."

Antenna Music admitted that the two songs were similar and issued a public apology while Sakamoto responded by saying that he didn’t think legal action was necessary. However, a string of claims that You plagiarized other songs such as "Please Don't Go My Girl (feat. Kim Yo-han)" (2013) and "Happy Birthday to You" (2002), surfaced.

Singer and producer You Hee-yul, right, hosts his music program ″You Hee-yul's Sketchbook″ in 2019 featuring indie band Adoy. [KBS]

Following backlash, You announced Monday that he will be leaving his longtime post as the host of KBS music program, "You Hee-yul's Sketchbook." His departure comes 13 years and three months after he first began hosting the program. Friday’s episode will be You's last.

You’s alleged plagiarism seems to be dividing the opinions of industry insiders.

Pop music critic Jung Min-jae wrote on his Twitter on Monday that the controversy seems to be overheating more than necessary and that he does not agree with all the allegations against You.

“The original composer said there are similarities but does not consider it plagiarism,” he said. “I agree with him as well, therefore, the third party disputing it is unnecessary. Kim Tae-won, who said the eight bars of You’s song and ‘Aqua’ are exactly the same, should take responsibility for his words.”

Kim Tae-won, a guitarist in Korea’s successful rock band Boohwal, along with several other music critics have made public remarks against You and claim he has been “walking on a fine line of plagiarism and reference for many years.”