The drama was accused of plagiarism by the writer Choi Soo Jin, who won the Grand Prize at the SBS Cultural Foundation Scriptwriting Competition with the work “1000 Won Lawyer” in 2015.
However, KBS’s “Neighborhood Lawyer” is based on a webtoon of the same name. The author of the original webtoon had previously accused “1000 Won Lawyer” of copying their work.
On February 4, Choi Soo Jin wrote online that the drama “Neighborhood Lawyer” involved characters and set-ups that were not in the webtoon and instead bore similarities to her prize-winning script. The writer also asserted that in the last three days she had sent certification of the contents to Lee Hyang Hee (the scriptwriter of “Neighborhood Lawyer”), KBS, and the drama’s production company, SM C&C.
A KBS representative replied, “‘Neighborhood Lawyer’ is a drama that is based on the webtoon of the same name by webtoon artist Hatchling. This artist had accused ‘1000 Won Lawyer’ of copying his work in the past. As the original artist has filed a plagiarism complaint, we will monitor the situation as it progresses.”
An SBS representative said, “We had heard last year after the competition that ‘1000 Won Lawyer” bore similarities to an original webtoon and examined it closely. We judged that the webtoon and the script were only similar in set-up and judged them to be entirely different works. Therefore, we are now preparing the script for production.”
“[As for the KBS drama,] we became suspicious that the screenwriter Lee Hyang Hee had used characters, episodes, and even sentences from Choi Soo Jin’s “1000 Won Lawyer” that were not found in the original webtoon,” they continued. “This accusation has nothing to with the original webtoon writer and it is for Lee Hyang Hee’s side to explain. If the matter is not clarified, then we may resort to legal matters.”