Today my site is 8 years old. When back in 2013 I started writing my articles about Korea and posting them here, I did not think at all about such an unpleasant thing as content stealing. Unfortunately, over the years, I have been faced with the stealing of my texts and photographs more than once or even twice. That has happened multiple times. They have stolen my texts for various groups dedicated to Korea in different SNS, and even for social networks of large organizations associated with this country. If I find such stealing, I contact the owners of the groups and demand either to put an active link to my site or to remove the content. The reaction has been very diverse: from apologizing and following the requirements to blocking me and rudeness towards me. It is sad to admit but I have almost got used to the fact of violation of my copyrights, as an inevitable evil that accompanies any job that done well. But this time I have faced a situation when people stole to participate in a content creation program and received support from the team that organised the program.
Be ready — the story will be long.
In the fall of 2020, I registered in the K-Friends program organized by the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) (here it should be noted that this is a government organization of the Republic of Korea). The program participants had to create posts about South Korea on their social networks (Instagram, Facebook) and publish them with the hashtag #K_friends. After the post was published, it was registered on the site, 10 points were given for every accepted post, then the winners were selected based on these points and awarded with various prizes (first place is tickets to Korea). In addition, we participated in various activities on the site and had to support the SNS of local offices of the KTO by reposting their posts. At that time, there were 2 offices in Russia: one in Moscow (and I was assigned to it), the other in Vladivostok. Each office chose the winners independently. I participated with my 365korea Instagram.
On January 15, 2021, I received an email from the Moscow office of KTO with information about winning the prize «for active participation in the K-Friends program». The Moscow office has not published the list of the winners with their places and prizes anywhere. Everything could probably be better for me now, if I did not come across the winner’s account on Instagram with a photograph of the certificate and a keynote speech, where the owner of the account writes that «this page is not just another account about Korean culture «, and she acts as a kind of reporter, talking about various aspects related to the life and culture of the Republic of Korea.» Then Anastasia touchingly thanks the readers of her posts for their attention and support. Everything would be great, but almost all her posts — both texts and photos — in the account are stolen. And among these stolen posts, I found four (!) my texts from this site.
You understand that correctly: the winner of the content creation program became a woman who simply stole texts and photos from all over the Internet, posted them in her account, put the hashtag #K_Friends, registered them on the site, and received points for that. And it seems that she does not give a damn about the fact that she violates the copyrights of those who wrote these texts and took these photographs. Anastasia also used an extremely fraudulent scheme: for example, she took the article «39 sights of Seoul» and made about 20-25 posts without the slightest effort, simply stealing — copying word to word the author’s text and photos from the article.
Here is a link to this «wonderful» account: https://www.instagram.com/my_soul_in_seoul__/
I was shocked by such impudence. It is one thing to steal posts for your public groups, it is another thing to participate with stolen texts and photographs in a content creation program from an official government organization and receive considerable prizes for this. But then it got crazier. In short, I wrote to the organizers of the program about copyright violations and fraud, and in response, I received that they did not mind at all. If you already understand everything and you want to support me, then scroll to the very bottom of the article, it says how you can help me.
Who wants details, then here they are. I collected in a google table all the posts published by Anastasia in her account by that time, found where she stole the texts from, sent an email to the organizers of the program — K-Friends Team, emails to the Moscow office, and to the Vladivostok office, because, judging by the other photos in the account, Anastasia received prizes and certificates from the office in Vladivostok for the same activity. All my emails were sent on January 27th. Our offices decided to keep silent even about receiving them.
Here is a link to the table where I collected all her posts by January 25, 2021: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1oHZ3i7r3mX2r967Jnz702MqzMZNhs6rIDJc6Vf4oBUQ/edit?usp=sharing
Here is a link to screenshots of her posts (unfortunately, I did not take long screenshots and you will understand why I regret it now later): https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/18j_dvjGSgifoehtWvOzA2QEifWncEoiI?usp=sharing
The owner suddenly changed the name of her account (the reasons of that you’ll see later) and here is a link to her posts of 2020 that she used to take part in the program: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/18j_dvjGSgifoehtWvOzA2QEifWncEoiI?usp=sharing
This gives an idea of the extent of the stealing. In her account, out of 270 publications she has created by her own probably only 10-15 posts (and I mean texts because I doubt that all posted photos are hers).
On January 29, I received an email from the K-friends management team:
I wrote a reply to the K-friends management team on February 1, 2021, where I once again clarified that I was not talking about using information from sites, but about stealing other people’s texts aka copyright violations. I even attached a table with the analysis of Anastasia’s posts and the texts stolen from my site. Among other things, I asked a question to which I have never received an answer — if they understand that it is about copyright violations, then whether their actions mean that the Korean government organization, on behalf of which they are acting, allows, supports, and rewards copyright infringement in other countries. Nobody has answered me.
On February 8, 2021, I wrote an email with all the available information and the response from the K-friends management team to the direct address of KTO in Korea. Nobody has answered me.
On February 9, 2021, the Moscow office, as if nothing had happened, sent me an email that my prize was on its way to me. In response to that email, I asked if they had received my message of January 27th. It turns out that they did receive it and simply transferred it to the head office. But in response, they kindly translated a letter from the K-friends management team into Russian.
The story took an unexpected turn. On February 8, 2021, the Vladivostok office of KTO published a list of winners on its Instagram.
The winner was Galina Petrushkova, who took first place and received a certificate for tickets to Korea for 50 thousand rubles (it is like $666), in the comments she rejoiced at her victory, and I went to her account. You can already laugh here. She has only 33 posts about Korea in her account for this program, and everything (!) was simply copied word to word from the Internet, and photos were stolen from there. If Anastasia still sometimes makes attempts to change the texts, then Galina simply steals. There is a funny thing there: based on her Instagram account, Galina Petrushkova is a very religious woman, she works as a sister of mercy, teaches at Sunday school, but she stole a text and a photo even from the website of the Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church. How can faith and stealing coexist so easily in one person? I asked Galina in the comments if she considered it fair to participate in the content creation program with other people’s texts and photos, but received no response. She just blocked me, her friends wrote rude things to me in the comments, and in PM, the Vladivostok office of KTO pretended that they did not notice the discussion on copyright on their Instagram.
Here is a link to Galina Petrushkova’s posts:
Here is a link to screenshots of her posts: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1si7H9Ee4jjq69vpOXKK6Wf30nWfwHP_H?usp=sharing
And a link to her account: https://www.instagram.com/galinapetrushkova/
Since I did not receive any replies to my emails, the K-Friends team just ignored me, I asked my friend to find an opportunity to contact the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of South Korea, which is KTO’s boss and describe the situation to them. He wrote a complaint on the website, the answer came on February 25, 2021, that the ministry will investigate the issue of copyright infringement. Since then they have kept silent. But the day before, a Korean employee of the Moscow office of KTO called me and asked questions about what I wanted. I said that I wanted fair play and supporting of my copyrights, but since then I have heard nothing from her.
Meanwhile, some movements were observed in the account of the Moscow winner. Anastasia unexpectedly renamed her Instagram (it was @futurenative_, it became @my_soul_in_seoul_), changed her avatar, published a post on February 25, where she informed about the changes in her account — you see, she added links to the sources that she had used.
Look at the evolution of posts with the text stolen from this site.
The original text: http://korea365.ru/autumn-colors/
How Anastasia’s post looked like when she took part in the program:
In between with a sudden author «by me»:
Finally with a credit to this site:
I thought that one of the organizers had leaked my table to her and got her down. I doubt that such people can feel guilty at all. However, this did not fix the copyright infringement situation. Firstly, many sites prohibit copying of their texts, and secondly, many require an active link to the site (like me), and posts on Instagram do not provide an opportunity to make hyperlinks. Galina was not noticed in any actions with her posts for the program.
The explanation for the unexpected activity came on March 10, 2021. They even wrote everything in Russian.
Briefly, they contacted the winners. The Moscow winner confessed that she misused the content, the Vladivostok winner just ignored their email. They gave them one warning because of it.
Well, you understand … For numerous stealing of other people’s content (copyright violations) and using it to get points in the program, each of the winners was given one warning. And as you can already igamine, to my legitimate question why those who stole and scamed many times were so «severely» punished, I have not received any answer.
How you can help
I realized my mistake. I would have publicly spoken out against this stealing and scam, but I did not want to dishonor KTO and spoil its reputation by openly discussing the problem. Due to the fact that I alone claimed about the copyright issue to the Korea Tourism Organization, they apparently decided to simply not pay attention to me and my words. In all their emails, they express me fake gratitude for my help, promise that they will change the rules so that this does not happen again, but recently they relaunched the 2021 K-friends program (Moija K-Friends) and sent me an invitation email to participate once again for a prize in the creation of content about Korea and there is not a word that copyright infringement is unacceptable for the participants.
If you were also outraged by this situation, if you found your texts or photos in the accounts of the «winners», if you are against the Korean government organization supporting and rewarding copyright infringements in Russia, then spend a few minutes of your time, share this article with your friends and write about your position to the organizers of this outrage. You can write to this address in Russian or English firstname.lastname@example.org, be sure to put in a copy email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org (as I understand it, these are the Koreans responsible for these programs), english @ knto.or.kr and email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org — our Moscow office’s emails. In the subject it is better to write in English K-Friends Russia Copyright Violations
For four months now I have been trying to get the K-Friends Team to a dialogue and make them do some adequate actions, but it’s true that no man is an island. The fact that the K-Friends Team unexpectedly took the side of those who stole from me and other people, I feel a little discouraged. I don’t want to write or publish anything else, so that such Anastasia and Galina would simply use my texts or photos for their own selfish purposes. And I am offended that for so many years I have supported the Republic of Korea, and when I needed help and support, its representatives refused me that.
Oh yes! Happy birthday, korea365.ru!