Amid accusations that SM Entertainment plagiarized an idea for Aespa's teasers from different sources, Korean netizens have allegedly found its art director's Pinterest account that proves the claims to be true. Read more about it here.
Aespa has been accused of plagiarism ever since their first round of teasers started dropping. When member Winter's teasers first dropped back in Oct., people accused SM Entertainment of plagiarizing Toronto-based photographer Bryan Hyunh's work from his past pictorial with Paper Magazine X Euphoria back in 2019.
Bryan Hyunh himself commented on how uncanny the resemblance is. In his Instagram stories, he shared a screenshot of his work on his Instagram account alongside a screenshot of Aespa's Instagram account with Winter's teasers. While he did not outright accuse Aespa, he did voice out his skepticism over originality.
When Aespa dropped their "Black Mamba" video teaser, they were accused of copying not one but two different sources.
The video was accused of copying elements from K/DA's music video for "POP/STARS." Coincidentally, Aespa has been compared to K/DA ever since they announced their virtual members' concept, as K/DA is a group that has K-pop idols that portray a virtual character.
In the music video, fans noticed that Aespa has numerous scenes near identical to scenes found in "POP/STAR." Fans pointed out that both make use of a subway and subway sign the same way. People also mentioned that both music videos use the same neon color scheme and apply graffiti motifs.
Even the overall aesthetic of the "Black Mamba" in Aespa's teaser is similar to a monster seen in the "POP/STARS" music video.
SM Entertainment was also accused of plagiarizing work from a German visual artist named Timo Helgert. Previously, in NCT U's "Make a Wish" music video, SM Entertainment spoiled Aespa's teaser's bits at the end of the video. The scene showcases a subway with grass and purple flowers growing from the ground, with a butterfly flying around.
This scene is nearly identical to one of Timo Helgert's old work. His work showcases a subway with grass and white flowers growing from the ground, with butterflies flying around. He also has an old work that shows a large, black snake slithering through a subway train, which is also seen in Aespa's teaser.
The visual artist himself has commented on the issue through his Instagram stories, saying it appears the company had copied his work.
ALSO READ: SM Entertainment Once Again Accused of Plagiarism Following Drop of Aespa's 'Black Mamba' Teaser
While SM Entertainment has not responded to the accusations, it appears it is confirmed that those works were, in fact, plagiarized. An overseas netizen claims to have found the Pinterest account of SM Entertainment's art director.
The Pinterest account, which allegedly belongs to Jo Woocheol, contains folders that are named after SM Entertainment artists. In the screenshot below, there are folders titled "Rookie group," "TAEMIN," and "KAI." It appears that whatever work the art director takes inspiration from is added to their representative folder.
In Aespa's folder, fans found photos from Bryan Hyunh's past pictorial with Paper Magazine, which netizens have taken as confirmation for plagiarism. Notably, the photo that fans claimed SM Entertainment plagiarized from is in the folder.
The Pinterest account is now set to private when it was initially public.
SM Entertainment has yet to comment on the issue.
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Written by Alexa L.