Warning : If you haven’t read PS I love you or watched the movie, there are a lot of spoilers ahead.
There is a fine line between inspiration and plagiarism with respect to books and movies. There is no clear difference between inspiration and plagiarism (or I haven’t seen one).
I read PS I love you after I read up on the movie. I didn’t watch the movie adaptation until I finished the book. I have recommended the movie and the book to lots of people because I liked them. Some of them found the book and the movie to be mushy and melodramatic but most of them are fans of this book/movie as a result of a wonderful plot. Few took it as an influence to move ahead with their lives after the loss of their loved ones.
I have been a fan of Korean movies because of their depiction of emotions. Natural and true to reality, sometimes their love stories will make you cry. Last year, I stumbled upon this highly successful romance tale titled The Letter (Pyeonji) that was released in 1997. The reason why it came in to my realm so late was because I usually watch the new wave Korean cinema that started in 1999. I have watched only few select titles from former days.
The Letter is a story of Jung In (Choi Jin Shil) and Hwan Yoo (Park Shin Yang), a young couple who meet accidentally while boarding a train. Hwan Yoo, a research scientist in a reserve forest and Jung In, a doctorate student trying to become a professor, fall in love instantly. They marry and their life sails smooth until Hwan Yoo finds he is afflicted with malignant brain tumour. With the certainty that he will die, he starts to write letters and makes sure that they get delivered to Jung In after his demise. How these letters make Jung In moves forward in life is portrayed in the remaining the movie.
Directed by Lee Jung Gook, the movie became a massive hit and became the most successful Korean movie in 1997. Choi Jin Shil was a household name then (she was called as the Nation’s actress) while Park Shin Yang was relatively a newcomer.
Why I think Cecilia Ahern would have got inspired by this movie?
1. The plot point is startlingly similar. Loveable husband and wife who are struggling for make ends meet, a terminal disease and letters posted after demise are too close for comfort.
2. This question will come to your mind. Why get inspired by a 1997 movie for 2004 book? The Letter was remade in Thailand in 2003 and was released in early 2004. But PS I love you was published in April 2004. Cecilia Ahern has claimed that she wrote the book in a single sitting of 3 months.
But can we prove it?
1. No it’s impossible. We can’t link Cecilia Ahern to the movie. And people will argue that taking only the idea might not amount to plagiarism. There were stray reports that the Korean producers filed a case against Harper Collins, but there is no proof for the same.
2. Smartly, the inspiration stops at the plot point. The way it travels is totally different from the original. In fact, you can’t even see a single resemblance in any one of the sequences. The end is totally different from the original.
Why should you watch “The Letter”?
1. I still think somehow Cecilia Ahern came to have knowledge about the original. Because, the plot point is frighteningly similar. She was smart enough to make it palatable for a wider audience.
2. The Letter is definitely better movie than PS I love you. You will get attached to the lead characters and the love is more soul-stirring. The wife has a natural love for words in the movie.
3. In PS I love you, the wife moves forward with her life as a result of the life experiences she goes through. The letters make her to do certain things and travel to certain places. Her experiences change her life and not the letters. While in “The Letter”, the letters have strong significance in shaping the wife’s life after his demise. You will know when you watch the movie.
4. The last reason – it will help you take a decision whether Cecilia actually plagiarised/got inspired by this movie.
If you ask me, I stopped recommending PS I love you and started recommending “The Letter” after watching the original. It will be tough for me to pick up a Cecilia Ahern book again.