South Korea has big plans for film biz

Culture minister intends to rework tax incentives, regs

SEOUL — South Korea’s Ministry of Culture & Tourism has reaffirmed plans to spend $674 million over five years to become one of the top five film-producing countries by revenue.

Culture & Tourism minister Kim Myung-gon, a former actor, wants to raise South Korea’s worldwide market share from its current 1.6% to 3%.

He intends to rework tax incentives and regulations and throw government support behind 30 film investment funds, film production staff, a new center to promote the export of Korean films, a nationwide chain of arthouse theaters and 15 regional media centers to support independent filmmaking.

Nonetheless, the plans are being greeted coolly by the local film industry, in part due to lingering anger over cuts in South Korea’s screen quota system, which went into effect July 1. This halves the number of days local exhibs must show Korean films to 72 a year. Many believe the government caved in to U.S. pressure during Free Trade Agreement talks.

Exhibitors also object to the ministry’s plan to raise $210 million by taxing movie tickets.

Bills related to the ministry’s plans are pending in the National Assembly.

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