BUSAN: China-Korea Co-Prod Treaty a Mixed Bag

BUSAN — Veteran Hollywood entertainment lawyer Thomas Leo of L.A.-based Sheppard Mullin briefed attendees at the BIFF Asian Film Market Sunday on the ins and outs of international co-producing. Titled “Borderless Collaboration with China: International Co-productions and Legal Issues,” the presentation was heavy on detail, but afterward Leo succinctly stated the essentials of China-Korea Co-production Treaty that was signed in July and went into effect Sept. 1: “Is it a good deal for Korea?” he asked. “The answer is yes and no. Yes, because it means Korean co-productions with China are not subject to the Chinese import quota for foreign films. No, because they are subject to national treatment by China, including Chinese censorship. So it’s a bit of a mixed bag.”

Overall, however, the treaty is a positive for both the Korean and Chinese industries, as Leo explained in his talk, since the Chinese get the benefits of Korean production technology, which he described as “the highest level in Asia,” while Korean films can more easily advance into the Chinese market, the world’s second largest.

Cross border exchanges, however, are already flourishing, with Chinese interest in Korean pop culture especially strong. Among the recent Korean-Chinese co-prods mentioned by Leo are the Kim Yong-hwa comedy “Mr Go,” the Oh Ki-hwan romantic comedy “A Wedding Invitation,” the Wayne Wang period drama “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan,” the Ahn Byeong-ki thriller “Bunshinsaba 2,” the Hyo In-moo romantic comedy ”Wedding Bible” and the Chinese remake of the Korean comedy hit “Miss Granny,” now in production.

The first film to be made under the new treaty, however, is a sequel to the 2001 Korean smash “My Sassy Girl,” a co-prod between Korea’s Shincine and China’s Sky Wheel Media now being shot with Chinese pop star Victoria and Korean thesp Cha Tae-hyun, who starred in the original, in the lead roles.

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