Qing Yu Nian, a popular Chinese costume drama adapted from the
Chinese web novel of the same name, has been accused by Chinese netizens
of plagiarizing content from the fantasy novel series The Twelve Kingdoms (1992) written by Japanese novelist Fuyumi Ono.
Netizens on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo have been discussing a section of dialogue from Qing Yu Nian that some say bears a striking similarity to a paragraph from the Japanese novel.
paragraph "to not yield when oppressed, to not be discouraged even when
encountering disaster, to correct injustice without fear, do not yield
and flatter the monsters" in the Japanese novel is being compared to Qing Yu Nian's
"to be unyielding when abused by others, to not to be frustrated when
disasters occur, if anything is unfair, be fearless in correcting it, do
not flatter the vile."
While the words are different, the meaning and structure of both are very similar, which has sparked debate among netizens.
"Very similar meanings indeed, it definitely borrowed some ideas from The Twelve Kingdoms, but to call it plagiarism, I doubt it," said a netizen on Weibo.
paragraphs look almost the same, even their logic and structure are the
same and you say it's not plagiarism?" posted another netizen who
confronted Qing Yu Nian fans who claimed the TV drama merely used Ono's novel as a reference.
is hard to judge by just looking at the paragraph. Some writers do
reference other author's work, but if the taken bit has been 'washed'
thoroughly, and has no dramatic similarities, and the bit happens to be
less important and has less function when evaluating it in the entire
work, then, it is not easy to define it as plagiarism," said Xu Xinming,
a lawyer specializing in copyright law, told the Global Times on
"Describing a work as a pyramid - the spire is the
idea, the concept of a novel, film and TV script; the foundation of the
pyramid is the expression. If you use the expression, it is undoubtedly
"In other words, the law protects expression,
but not concept or ideas. But what is expression and what is concept,
sometimes can be confusing and depends on the particular case,"
Created by famous Chinese web literature writer Mao Ni, Qing Yu Nian
is a well-rated alternative history novel that tells the story of a
young man called Fan Xian and his life in the country of Qing. In 2019,
the work was adapted into a 46-episode TV drama starring famous actors
such as Zhang Ruoyun, Chen Daoming and Xiao Zhan, a controversial but
popular Chinese star with nearly 30 million fans on Sina Weibo. In
addition to the TV series, the IP has been adapted into other cultural
productions such as animated works and games.
"What I worry
about the most is, if the plagiarism scandal gains ground, will there be
a second season? Please don't cancel it, I like the TV drama a lot,"
Tanni, a fan of the show in Beijing, told the Global Times on Thursday.
2020, the official production team for the show announced that a second
season is in development and will likely air in 2022.