While Chinese producer Yu Zheng (于正) helmed many of China’s most popular dramas, he had also plagiarized other works as his own. For years, Yu Zheng adamantly denied the claims until recently he bowed to escalating pressure from over 100 industry insiders.
Yu Zheng’s most high-profile plagiarism allegations resulted in a legal battle in 2014 over claims that his drama Palace 2: The Lost Daughter <宮鎖連城> lifted ideas from Taiwanese author Chiung Yao’s (瓊瑤) novel Peach Blossom Scar <梅花烙>. Though Yu Zheng lost the lawsuit and was ordered to pay 5 million Chinese yuan in compensation and issue a public apology, he refused to admit he ever plagiarized.
Things took a turn when more than 100 industry insiders consisting of writers, producers, screenwriters and directors spoke out about Yu Zheng’s plagiarism and agreed to boycott his works. He was forced to withdraw from his role as a mentor on I am an Actor 3 <我就是演員3>, and his filmed scenes were deleted. His completed dramas were also unable to secure broadcasting dates.
Faced with a crisis in his career, Yu Zheng finally apologized for his plagiarism. In his apology to Chiung Yao, Yu Zheng shared his admiration for the author and the harm he caused. Yu Zheng revealed that it was not easy for him, as he reflected on his mistakes while paying the compensation. He also expressed his regret for taking six years to face his mistakes.
Yu Zheng’s drastic change in behavior was not viewed favorably by netizens. Many believe he only relented and apologized after facing significant headwinds from the industry boycott.
As a result of Yu Zheng’s plagiarism controversies, many of his upcoming dramas did not get confirmed broadcast dates yet and indirectly impacted many popular aritstes such as Li Yitong (李一桐), Qin Lan (秦嵐), Wu Jinyan (吳謹言), Jiang Qinqin (蔣勤勤), Yang Rong (楊蓉), Bai Lu (白鹿), and Jin Chen (金晨). Yu Zheng’s upcoming dramas include: Song of Youth <玉樓春>, Zhaoge <朝歌>, Ode to Daughter of Great Tang <大唐女儿行>, and Legacy <传家>.