Ok, so this is a bit of a random topic, but it’s something we feel is worth talking about. It doesn’t have a lot of practical info for you if you’re coming to visit Korea. Not like you need to know what things to pack and, also, worry about your copyrights, but it’s a topic we’re somewhat passionate about, since it’s one that affects us. Korean businesses rip off a lot of other people’s shit, and that freaking sucks. We talked about a couple of stories today in which we were affected, but there are others, some of which we had to settle out of court, that we won’t be talking about here.

The legal jargon of copyrights and intellectual properties is something that’s beyond us. I’m sure there’s a lot of legality to the issue that we just don’t have the knowledge to speak about, and I’m sure some people who are lawyers in Korea will be able to say in so many words that it’s not copyright infringement if blankity blank blank fart blank. Or, who knows: maybe there are some laws about international intellectual property here in Korea that allow for Angelina Jolie bars to run. Or maybe Angelina Jolie was like “yeah! I’d love to have my pics all over a bar in Bucheon” Who knows. All we can really comment on is our experiences and how we perceive the situations around us.

At the same time, I remember reading a while ago that a tech company, namely SpaceX, won’t patent its intellectual property, simply because China would just use that as a recipe book. Great metaphor, really, and basically gives us the impression that we have here. Ideas from other countries can be ripped off, and there isn’t really much that can be done to stop it.

Side note: I know some of you know what company we were referring to that took a lot of our footage after we refused to be on the show. Buuut, notice how we didn’t name them? Why, you might ask? Defamation laws! Korea’s got some bizarre laws in which you can’t publicly say bad things about people, even if those things are freaking goddamned 100% true. We have close friends of ours who recently got fired from their schools wrongfully, and assaulted by the school’s owner as well, but they can’t go public with that on the internet because they’d get sued for defamation. I’m sure that there’s more subtlety and variation to the law, but we’re not familiar enough with it. All we know is that it’s damning enough to be afraid of speaking out publicly. And, seeing how this is a big company that we’re talking about, and we’re just petty foreigners with little protection here, we’re going to be as vague as possible. Yep.

Anyhow, you heard us also mention in the video the idea not only that we didn’t want to be in that major network’s video, but also the reason WHY we didn’t want to be there, which we just touched on a bit. Basically, we get contacted from time to time from TV shows who want us to play the role of the fun foreign couple who comes to Korea and is amazed by everything. “Oh! The food is so spicy but so delicious! We did not know your country makes such great food! Wow! And it is good for your health too! This country amazes me so much!” What’s bizarre about these shows is that they’re on Korean channels, spoken by Korean hosts, subtitled in Korean (or, they even want us to say these things in Korean), and aired for a Korean audience. What purpose do these shows serve, apart from feeding the audience’s sense of nationalism and pride? It’s not educational. It’s not meant for other countries to watch. It’s ego-stroking, really. We agreed to do those shows before we really knew what they were like and the message they conveyed, but now we’re not interested in doing them. Does that mean that we refuse all shows? No. There’s another major network we’ve been speaking with who have suggested a cool concept for a show, which we’re totally down for, and which doesn’t reek of nationalism.

And, sure, I know some people will say that the nature of those shows we’re against is essentially what we do with our videos as well: we’re showing the world the awesomeness of Korea. But there’s a difference, I think. We can talk about things that are annoying. We can say what we think is wrong. Sure, whenever we do say something negative it’ll come at the cost of getting nationalist netizens demanding our deportation, but we’re at least trying to come at Korea with a grain of salt. We’re more interested in sharing our stories, rather than spreading a message of Korea’s supremity. We’ll do the same no matter what country we’re in.

Ok, this got a bit heated. Sorry for ranting. This TV show thing annoyed us, and what better place to talk about it than here? You guise are cool people with whom we can discuss these things rationally. You commenting Nasties are legit :D We’re more than ok with talking about any of the points here, about copyrights and intellectual property and trying to get a better understanding of Korea’s stance on it, or even about our positions on different kinds of Korean TV shows with foreigners. Let us know what you think.

Oh, and lastly, if you like this video and want more like em, click on this button below to let us know. It’s definitely worth the energy it takes to click the button :D

  1. Might Memebox’s, “WTF: Wonderful Treasure Finds Box” be one of those rippy offy situations?

  2. Hey EYK! Not sure if you guys still check comments on your old blog posts, but I had a question for you guys about copyright stuff! I know some fans make their own fan merchandise for different groups using the logo or photos of the bands and sell them – would that count as copyright infringement too? I know you mentioned Kpop socks (so sad- but you can still find the cartoon ones!) so I was just wondering if it also applied to fans in other countries doing things for fun.

  3. 내 아를 낳아도~ this part is the funniest subtitle i have ever seen did Soozee do it? hilarious

  4. I would like to correct a (fairly significant) misleading statement made by Simon in the video. He suggests that Korean network stations probably do not pay royalties for the use of copyrighted foreign song clips (which, if that were the case, would be illegal, as he rightly points out). In reality, use of copyright songs in Korean network shows are unlikely to go unnoticed by the US music industry. In fact, this has been a very sensitive issue between Korea and the US, even before the FTA between the two countries was concluded, and the entire arrangement is subject to very tight contracts between the Korean network stations and the relevant US agencies. Despite Simon suggesting that use of copyrighted songs operate on a blanket fee per song basis, in actual fact, the commercial dealings are very complex and the actual royalty charged is dependent on a number of factors (such as the length of the clip used, whether the clip is used as a feature/theme performance or simply for background). Apparently, the royalty arrangements (for use in Korea) operate on a percentage-of-earnings-of-the-show, rather than blanket-fee basis, most of the time. This partly explains why foreign song clips used in Korean shows are fairly short, used mostly for background music, and also why you never hear Beatles music in Korean TV (the agency in charge of Beatles royalties charge very very high rates).

  5. You guys, that is SO messed up that your videos were just used by a certain “Korean broadcasting company” without permission granted or compensation provided….I am living here in Korea too and am pretty familiar with this mentality surrounding IP, but I have to say this really crosses a line. I hope notice gets taken and that they follow up with an apology AND some big-time compensation!

  6. This was really interesting for me to watch, but it brought up a question I’ve been wondering about for a while now.
    What are the laws about copying/using other people’s music? Or rather,
    what I’m getting it is this: you use Junsu’s Intoxication for the nasty
    theme in some of your videos, but isn’t that using his music without
    permission? Or is that sort of use acceptable? Thanks. :)

  7. Question to S&M:
    Did the Korean broadcasting company who used your videos without permission actually know that you guys are a company and that your “eyk” logo is trademarked and all that?
    Maybe they thought that your videos about Korea are just like random K-fan videos on youtube or something like that?

    (I mean, I’m not trying to belittle you guys or anything. But it hasn’t been that long since you guys have been an official business in Korea, right? So my question is, did that broadcasting company know that you’re a company and that your company logo is trademarked and you have a studio and all that?
    Did they know that your Youtube videos are the property of your business?
    And if they didn’t know, then did you tell them that you are a company?)

    I mean, there are a lot of blogs on the internet, and most of them are not commercial for-profit.
    So if you got out the word that you’re actually a business and that you are a company and all that, wouldn’t it be less likely that people would steal your intellectual property?

    And here’s a suggestion:
    From now on, when you’re making videos, why not include a copyright notice at the end of each video?
    I think that would make it real clear that the videos are copyrighted property and people can’t just steal them and use them without permission.
    (Because.. if random people are watching your videos on Youtube, they have no way of knowing that you guys are a company and that the videos are property of your company.)

    Okay, that’s all for now.

  8. wait black face……………………..

  9. It’s the same exact way in the country I come from. There are literally chain stores in every mall that have the same exact name as huge brands from the US (American Apparel and Urban Outfitters are the biggest ones I can think of) and they sell totally different clothes and I am 100% sure they did not pay for that copyright. And if you go to the street markets there’s all kinds of fake brands, like Addidas (sometimes with an extra line), Nike (they don’t even change ONE THING about the logo), lots of fake CDs, DVDs and video games, band/TV/movie merchandise… it’s crazy.

    I think a lot of business owners in small countries, or countries that are far from the US, can get away with this simply because of what you guys said, who is going to send their lawyers to prey on a bunch of small businesses abroad?

    Anyways… I was wondering how unusual is it to see people with tattoos, body piercings, unnatural hair dye, etc in Korea? Do they get judged or stared at or treated differently? Is there a big difference if you’re a boy or a girl regarding these things?

  10. It seems like Korea is a conservative country.. Have you guys seen any body piercings or even gauges on any Koreans? Are there any piercing parlors? How do Koreans react to body piercings like.. a belly button, nose, or eyebrow??

  11. Hi Simon, Martina Su Zee and Leigh :D I wanna know if the k-pop fans in South Korea are much different than international fans because I watched Reeply 1997 a few time ago and I remember that the main character was obcessed with only one group and she can’t even ear other song beside them (like it was a betrail to the group) and for me is strange because I have my favourites (Infinite Shinee and TVXQ) but I ear a lot of songs and k-pop groups (BAP, EXO, B2st, 2ne1, Big Bang..) and I wanted to know if the korean still are or if they really were like in the drama and what do you think about that. beijinhos from Portugal :)

  12. Ugh. Conflicting feelings about said broadcasting station. If someone doesn’t want to be on your show, respect that -_-

    Anyway, Simon, Martina, I hope everything was settled and you got some form of payment and/or more good publicity from what they air of your videos (past tense if they took all of it down already). I’ve only seen 3 couples doing videos or shows on things/places in Korea and you two are by far the best. The other two have a somewhat ditzy-sounding person and their pronunciation is just– ugh. All broadcasting stations should know not to mess with you since there isn’t an unlimited amount of foreigner couples that can help them as much as you can.

    Oh gosh my comment is so long. Long comment short, you don’t need to be on those programs that promote Korea. Frankly I think THEY need YOU. Keep up the great work! Love you guise! <3

  13. Hello fellow Canadians! i have a question for you two! I am a big fan of K-drama’s. And while watching them, i have noticed in the drama’s that are about idols, they have those scenes with those crazy fans! I’ve heard they are called sasaeng fans! are they really as bad as these shows portray them to be, or do the drama’s greatly exaggerate these people?

  14. Perhaps you two can get a laugh out of this. I wonder if it’s still in theatres?.. Maybe you can check it out if you have the time! xD

    Humour aside, I found this TL;DR very informative and am super stoked whenever you guise come out and speak to topics that relate to you personally. Copyright issues are a huge deal and should definitely be addressed, whether defamatory or not (Korea – that’s a lame law, yo). I totally understand the whole “Well, they won’t see me, so, it shouldn’t matter” ideology, but it should. And it does. Mark Twain once penned the quote “We ought never do wrong when people are looking.” Great quote, but eventually, people come looking. ^^;

    I think Soo Zee and Leigh’s new segment this week applies perfectly to this situation.
    깡다구 좀 있는데?! (감사합니다 수지와 리! 짱! <3)

  15. I must say, I always do find it funny when I hear popular musical scores used in Korean television shows here and there, and I immediately recognize what it is. Pretty much assumed they didn’t license it, because it’s not like they’ve ever had to worry about jurisdiction. There may even be misconceptions on part of what is considered Public Domain in the international market… above and beyond not caring.

    Granted, a lot of Southeast Asia has started to crack down on counterfeits and other illegalities, but that may be more due to them recognizing that they would only be stealing from themselves; as opposed to U.S. and European firms worrying about film/music piracy. I’d say governments are slowly learning that they too can profit by legally distributing and broadcasting big budget content from overseas and yield a profitable audience with enough demand. Just another facet of the expedient evolution of those countries that came late to the Industrial Revolution party.

  16. I have done a little research on adoption in Korea since that is something my husband and I might be interested in someday. I seem to keep coming across the fact that you may not be able to ever find out about the health of your adopted child’s parents because it seems there is still a stigma to having children outside of wedlock. Is the shame of a child not born to married parents so bad that they would rather put this child up for adoption than raise him/her. I know that this is a delicate subject but I am very curious

  17. What influenced your decision to go to Korea to be English teachers? Like, was there something while living in Canada that caused to be interested in the Korean culture? Thanks! You guys are awesome.

  18. Well, with the samsung and lg thing.

    Did you know samsung makes all the hardware in the iphone? Samsung sued and lost, shocking!!

    Did you know lg had an ipad in 1998 and internationally trademarked and showed in at some German international electronics expo in 98? Lg sued and lost, shocking!!

    Steve jobs is a crook. Without steve jobs I products wouldnt be as nice.

    With out Steve Wozniak there would be no apple!

    Without Dennis Ritchie tjere would be no computers. We would all ready binary code.


  19. I found the video that they were talking about, there are no subtitles though.


  20. Yup, nothing surprises me. Before hand, pre-internet days, I had teacher friends who had pictures of them that showed up magically in pamphlets and brochures out of nowhere. Flipside to all this cowboy intellectuall non madness? The nazi bar in
    Pusan pre and during World Cup 2002. Yeah we’ll just throw nazi logos on our bar and nobody will care, that sells. Until you suddenly have an international community on your doorstep… and well well well… looks like that is still going on…. shocker… not… http://rokdrop.com/2007/10/11/israel-upset-about-nazi-bar-in-seoul/

  21. i kinda get this i think somthing else that is a problem in the us is ive seen so many people pretending to be kpop idols on things like facebook and chat sites i understand that to spread the word of kpop and tell people about you idols is all kool but to pretend to be them is wrong -_- anyways love your show guys:)

  22. I think Celebs are more like “I didn’t have plastic surgery at your facility!!!” More accurate no?

  23. After watching this, now it got me wondering whether BEG got permission to name their song “Kill Bill” since the MV is heavily inspired by the movie.

  24. The music thing is especially true, even MTV in America uses generic Muzak type music to score a lot of their shows because they can’t afford the artists licensing fees.

  25. all of us here will say it for both of you. SHAME ON YOU KBS!!! YES YOU KOREAN BROADCASTING SYSTEM!!and all the other people who not only use eat your kimchi’s stuff but others as well without their permission. I dont think the company would like it very well if somebody stole stuff from them so they shouldn’t do it to others

  26. Will you guys be taking any legal action? I hope they at the very least give yall an official apology and payment for using your videos. Justice must be served! Please keep us posted on how this turns out!

  27. Could you do a TLDR about how foreigners are represented in korean mass media? What image they have and how are they treated if they are a part of a program (e.g. talk show)? Are there any typical roles that foreigners have to play when appear in tv? Thanks :D PS. Love your videos :D:D

  28. What about those Korean fansites that go to their idol’s concert with a heavy ass equipment which can worth a LOT i’m sure. Take pictures along the concert, sometimes not even enjoying the show itself just to take pictures and afterward upload the HQ pics onto their website.
    Then they make rules like “Do not Edit”, “Do not gif”(if it’s a fancam), “Do not put it on tumblr” etc.

    I know a lot of ppl(yes international fans) that shit on those rules, crop out credits, make their “oh so beautiful edits” and they post it on tumblr of course. And then there’s the other part of these fans who try to fix things and restlessly go to these ppl to make them a)credit the owner of a picture, b)make them took down their image.

    Also i know that those who make these edits say that they do not agree with the fansite owner. Because that if they take a photo that’s one way of art and creativity, but the fans who edit the pictures also want to create art and why should they be stopped?

    I don’t know how to judge this situation, but one thing i know that because of those fans who edit photos without permission are making lots of fansites to shut down, which will eventually mean that there won’t be any art material for them.

    ps.: also this is a basic thing that makes k-fans get mad at i-fans = this is why k-fans and i-fans don’t get along.

  29. Oh!! I always wonder how all those broadcasting companies had the permission to use the songs as background music but now it made sense!!!

  30. I wonder what the schools rules on copyright are? For example in the states you fail a class I your caught coping a paper from online and teachers really watch out for that stuff. Would Korean schools do the same?

  31. I love you guys but you should totally credit this girl’s artwork, because it actually upset her for the longest time. http://depyonggie.tumblr.com/post/42076553207/a-little-rant-about-eyk I feel bad for her because I draw fanart myself and I know how it feels when your artwork is being used without even mentioning you or anything. Guise? Help me out here? Nasties? :(

  32. Not only do I study design, but I also work in the photo department at a Walgreen’s pharmacy. People are always trying to scan professional pictures (i.e. school photos, wedding photos, etc) and have us print them out for them. Then they get mad when I tell them I need a copyright release form from the photographer in order to print them. The customer argues that they bought the picture, it’s theirs so they should be able to print it. The thing is, that photographer is still the artist of that picture. They created the backdrop, they staged it, they used their materials, they did the lighting, they did any editing, and they still own the original negative/digital file. You didn’t buy the picture from them, you bought a copy of the picture. My job requires permission to print and then sell (aka make a profit from the photographer’s work) that picture because if the photographer were to every find out, the company would be faced with the fines and the employee (aka me) would be fired and also face fines.
    There is so much that goes into it all and it drives me crazy when customers don’t understand.

  33. You’re TLDR’s are so great and informative, and this is such an interesting topic to talk about. I’m from the US and I’ve always wondered how this would be handled in other countries. I work at a university library, and we are always worried about copyright and of course, plagiarism.

    It really sucks that this happened to you, and, unfortunately, could happen to you again. I guess you really have to keep an eye out for your videos or your image being used without your permission. I can’t believe businesses would blatantly steal your stuff, especially well-known companies. No class or morals whatsoever!

    On a different note, I was wondering if you could talk about smoking in Korea. I know your FAQ states that it is allowed in restaurants and bars, but I’m wondering about the bigger picture. I see a lot of ads with drama stars and kpop stars puffing on cigarettes or holding a cigarette. Obviously, they don’t think this is bad advertising, and yes, I admit, they can look cool, BUT, what is this saying to the teens (or adults) that idolize them.

    Since advertising for tobacco products is highly restricted in US, I was wondering how it is in Korea. What is your take on this? Are people polite enough not to smoke if you ask them not to? Is it as common as drinking? ….Just something I’m interested in.

    Stay strong, and keep on truckin’!!!

    • I really want this as a TLDR, but I do know a bit about it. From what I’ve read, smoking is reallly common in Korea. Like 50% of males, and there’s taboo about a female smoking in public. It’s sort of ironic that so much of the population smokes, because MC Mong was caught smoking in an outtake of 1N2D and there was a lot of outrage. Public opinion is changing: instead of a cigarette, kdramas will have guys with a lollipop in his mouth. Hope that helps!

      • I know, I can’t believe some, if not most, of my favorite drama stars smoke. Yuck! I think, wow, he’s hot, then I see a picture of him smoking. Kinda takes the fun out of drooling over, I mean, liking him.;)

    • That’s a really good question and it’s interesting to talk about. Australia is very restricted with tobacco advertising and prices are really high to deter smokers and we understand completely how bad it is for you. There doesn’t seem to be the same awareness in Korea about how bad it is, of course they know on some level, but it’s not the same as here. So many Koreans smoke and it’s something I find difficult in Korea because there is no smoking inside in Australia but in Korea there are restaurants that allow it and it makes me sick. People tend to stop if you ask them politely but smoke gets into everything and just blowing the smoke the other way does nothing, so it would be better if there were stricter laws.
      Perhaps if Simon and Martina could talk about this and what the statistics of lung cancer are in Korea… I have heard due to their drinking culture that liver cancer is the number 1 cancer.

      • Anti-smoking campaigns are ongoing in Korea.
        In fact, this year the government started prohibiting smoking in restaurants, cafes, bars, PC-bang’s, etc.
        (Well, the larger establishments anyway. But I’m sure the laws will get progressively tougher and will include smaller establishments as well.)

    • Your question reminds me of a video I saw of a Big Bang “don’t smoke” commercial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AZSx-HoxbCo

      But the members [purportedly] smoked in real life anyways…..

  34. K-pop socks… why… that was like the ultimate black market items that I would always get. :3 Sad sad.

  35. The best example is Lee Hyo Ri and her second album Dark Angel. Brittney Spears company sued her because people said the song sounded like toxic or something. everyone found out that her manager or who ever was writing the songs was taking IDEAS from over seas artists and the song was like Brittney’s song. the same thing happened again when her 3rd cd came out and she took a break from the music scene and know she is back better then ever with management and etc. I love Lee Hyo Ri and feel bad for artist who have to deal with that. Lee Hyo Ri is lucky she is able to bounce out of something she didn’t have to much control over. But anyone know a days in k-pop or what ever wouldn’t be able to live they wouldn’t have a career.

    if Justin Bieber was Korean he wouldn’t be singing anymore with the way he acts just imagine if he had copyed stuff he was singing. (i am not saying he is the one who would have copied i am saying “the songs he has are copied.” that kind of had) either way he would be kicked to the road.

    But i am glad this is talked about :)

    • If JBiebs was Korean, the boy would have been publicly flogged for spitting on his fans. In fact, he should still be fogged, anyway; you don’t do stuff like that, it just goes to show about how much you really care about your fans. Anyway, seems like Lee Hyori has had a rough uphill battle with dem copyrights. The only major case of copyright infringement and plagiarism I’ve heard about her is the one surround her H-Logic album.

  36. Absolutely no copyrights on songs too! Intro part of JYJ’s was used by a girl group and what did them and their management had to say? One casual oh-i-didn’t-know,-it-was-a-mistake-Sorry!


  38. Ok let me tell you my experiences about these in Korea…. Well my boyfriend’s. He’s a Korean, studied in a university in Korea and one day for his assignment he had to write a paper like we all uni students do. He then showed it to me to review it and after reading it I was like “Wait… where are your citations? Where is the MLA? the Chicago? The pages upon pages of Bibliography or Works Cited? Where did you even get this from?!” Turns out he copied them straight off the internet and other books. And apparently according to him, it’s normal to do that in Korean Universities. No citations, NOTHING. I busy picking my jaw off the floor then. I was like “ARE YOU SERIOUS?! WE GET KICKED OUT OF UNI FOR THIS! THIS IS THIEVERY! PLAGIARISM! ” But nope, he proceeded to get an A for his paper….as did everyone else in the uni who probably did the same thing. And he did tell me that in uni, teachers didn’t teach them this sort of thing (citing and stuff) and didn’t take action even if people did what he did (copy stuff off…anywhere and everywhere)

    Fast forward and he was in USA for 3 months as an exchange student. Soooo for an assignment he proceeded to do the same! You know… copy off the internet and write it and submit it. Only this time he got called to the teacher’s office and he was questioned. And then he stilled didn’t know what he did wrong. He even went on to ask me “What did I do wrong? I WROTE IT! Why did she say it’s not my work?” Perhaps to them if they took the effort to look for the information and write it and actually work on it, it’s considered their work? I don’t know but I had to sit him down and say “You see honey, in Canada or USA, we get kicked out if we fail to cite our sources. Korean uni’s are the lax ones….”

    So there you have it. Plagiarism, it’s ok and a norm even in uni. *gasps in horror*

    • @jayeon55:disqus Yup it’s true, er well, though I’ve never studied in Asia and experienced it first-hand, I believe what I’ve read about it. The culture focuses stresses getting high marks so much that the ethics of achieving them all are only a minor detail.

    • It’s crazy how big it is, but it’s like that in most parts of asia and etc. When i was in college in canada there where a few chinese students in my class they would copy each others works and would all hand in the same thing. They where lucky and didn’t get kicked out but they wern’t aloud to have usb sticks in the class and if they did we had to give them to the teacher.

      Like i get so scared when i write a paper or design something i don’t want people to think i took but i have had people just take an imagie and copy it. i think the thing is they don’t think that it’s such a big deal. it’s like you bothered to look it up and read and write it out so you get an A. Which i know university is harder then that in Asia but what i have found is Korea and other asian countries seem to focus more on tests then writing Essays. Where in America and Canada we focus and are taught to come up with are own ideas and present how we got thoughts ideas.

  39. grrrr even as a korean myself, it is defiantly frustrating and annoying that tv shows are blatantly using other peoples music and content without consent even if its from someone high profile and powerful that could easily take the show down

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