A total of $21.2 million will be earmarked

SEOUL — The Korean Film Council’s 2008 support policies include expanded participation in film investment funds and efforts to foster the growth of ancillary markets.

A total of $21.2 million will be earmarked for participation in medium-to large-sized investment funds, in the hope of revitalizing South Korea’s moribund film finance sector. This marks a considerable expansion from previous years, when annual participation ranged from $4 million-$11 million.

Although detailed investment plans will be released next month, Kofic is said to want to increase its effectiveness by investing larger amounts into a comparatively smaller number of funds.

The state-financed body also is targeting South Korea’s sickly ancillary markets, given that theatrical receipts now account for a bloated 80% of an average film’s revenues.

Although it seems too late with regard to the barely functioning DVD market, many see potential for growth in new-media technologies such as IPTV. Kofic plans to invest $700,000 to support the growth of legal online VOD services.

Other support programs for 2008 include a nationwide network of screens devoted to arthouse releases (set to expand from 16 to 24 screens), support for overseas releases of Korean films, efforts to fight piracy, R&D funding for the growth of digital cinema, and various programs to support local arthouse and independent cinema, including the construction of a new cinema venue set for completion in 2010.

This year marks the first dispensation of a new Film Development Fund raised via a ticket surcharge introduced in July. The funds devoted to the 25 support programs run by Kofic now amount to $69.5 million, more than a 50% rise from last year’s $45.8 million.

Meanwhile the term of Kofic’s current board of commissioners, including chair An Cheong-sook, is set to expire in May. Much speculation has centered on whether South Korea’s new president, Lee Myung-bak, who will be sworn into office late this month, will bring about any change of philosophy at the state-financed body.

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