The scoop: Although they still have some way to go, the Korean cities of Seoul and Busan are starting to emerge as a real option for major international productions. Biggest strengths are extremely motivated, hardworking crews and the stability and expertise that come with a strong local industry.
City governments are beginning to catch on to tax incentives, too. In March, the city of Seoul unveiled a 25% refund on in-city spending, capped at $100,000, plus free airfare and accommodation for location scouting.
Disadvantages are the small number of quality, in-city soundstages (though this may be addressed in the future) and higher costs compared with China. Next-generation post-production facilities are under construction in Busan.
Bonus: For bigger projects, city governments in Busan and Seoul may be persuaded to contribute in additional ways above and beyond official support programs. Examples include co-financing of outdoor sets and donation of buildings slated for demolition.
Hot spot: The city of Jeonju boasts a high-profile film festival, but at the end of 2008 it will also sport a new $11.7 million studio complex. Facilities will include a 45-foot-tall, 22,000-square-foot indoor soundstage with the usual amenities, as well as a nearly 12-acre outdoor shooting area with permanent sets. Construction is said to be 70% complete.
Shot there: “Hero” (Japan), Toho; “The Good, the Bad and the Weird” (Korea), Barunson