×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Korean Film Industry: Censorship Rising?

With a conservative gov’t in place, bizzers fear the return of the scissors \

The modern South Korean film industry was born in the mid-’90s when the Busan festival helped push back the cloud of censorship that had prevailed for 10 years after the end of military rule.

Since then, Korean directors have reveled in their freedom to shock, tantalize and blindside their audiences — whether coming from Kim Ki-duk’s sado-masochistically bizarre “The Isle” and fairly explicit sex in Park Chul-soo’s “The Green Chair,” to hints of cannibalism in Kim Jee-woon’s “I Saw the Devil,” or the unremitting but always stylish ultra-violence of Na Hong-jin’s “The Chaser” and “The Yellow Sea.” Choi Min-sik eating a live octopus in Park Chan-wook’s “Oldboy” is still a high point for some genre fans.

Yet there’s growing concern that censorship is on the increase since the arrival in February of President Park Geun-hye’s deeply conservative government.

Some see the Korea Media Ratings Board as having already become tougher. They cite the near-banning of Kim’s “Moebius” as an example. The director, whose stock-in-trade is provocation, only had the film cleared for commercial release after two appeals and the removal of two minutes of footage.

Yet, a single problem film does not necessarily mark a trend. “The new government is less than one year old. Most current films were greenlighted before that,” says “Late Autumn” producer Lee Joo-ick. “Maybe there will be more impact in the future. But we are not China.”

Others fear that the government will not need to act explicitly and that self-censorship will do much of its work.

Some suggest that politically themed contemporary films are not going to be greenlit and that criticism of the government is becoming harder. For this they look no further than “Project Cheonan Ship,” a documentary by Baek Seung-woo, which premiered in May’s Jeonju festival. It offers alternative explanations for the 2010 sinking of warship Cheonan, in which 46 sailors died and which the South Korean government says was caused by a North Korean torpedo.

Bereaved families attempted to bar the film with court injunctions, but “Cheonan” made it into limited release in September, only to have the Megabox theater chain remove the film after two days. The exhibitor cited warnings that its cinemas were going to be picketed by conservative groups. Skeptics say with the heads of many big Korean conglomerates in jail, business is simply unwilling to stick its neck out.

More Biz

  • DJ Mormile and Jeff Burroughs Def

    Def Jam Appoints DJ Mormile, Jeff Burroughs to Senior Posts

    Def Jam Recordings has appointed industry veterans DJ Mormile and Jeff Burroughs (pictured above, right and left, respectively) to senior executive roles in its Los Angeles and New York offices, respectively. The announcement was made today by label Chairman & CEO Paul Rosenberg. Mormile — the L.A.-based manager who counts producer Mike Will Made It and [...]

  • DJ Mustard Signs With Sony/ATV Music

    DJ Mustard Signs With Sony/ATV Music Publishing (EXCLUSIVE)

    Sony/ATV Music Publishing has signed Grammy-winning songwriter, artist and producer Mustard to a worldwide deal. The Los Angeles-based hitmaker has worked with artists including YG, Rihanna, 2 Chainz, Drake, Migos, Chris Brown, Nipsey Hussle, Big Sean and many others, and won Best R&B Song at this year’s Grammy Awards for co-writing Ella Mai’s smash single [...]

  • NFL-Sunday-Ticket-DIRECTV

    AT&T CEO Expects DirecTV to Keep NFL Sunday Ticket Exclusively

    AT&T believes it will hang on to DirecTV’s exclusive rights for the NFL Sunday Ticket, even as the league has said it’s considering ending the satellite operator’s exclusivity to extend the out-of-home games package to streaming platforms. “The exclusivity [of Sunday Ticket] should remain as we go forward on DirecTV,” AT&T CEO and chairman Randall [...]

  • Pandora Acquisition Bites Into SiriusXM’s First-Quarter

    Pandora Acquisition Bites Into SiriusXM’s First-Quarter Profits

    SiriusXM today announced first quarter 2019 operating and financial results — the first since the company completed its acquisition of Pandora Media on Feb. 1 — and its quarterly profit was down 44% from the previous year. It attributed that drop to approximately $76 million of acquisition and other costs related to the Pandora deal, a $31 million one-time benefit [...]

  • Randall Stephenson

    AT&T Misses on Q1 Revenue as WarnerMedia Falls Short, DirecTV Subs Continue to Slide

    AT&T missed on the top-line with first quarter 2019 sales coming in under Wall Street targets. DirecTV continued to bleed subscribers — including a net decline of 83,000 DirecTV Now customers — partially offset by 3.3% revenue growth at WarnerMedia although sales in the media segment were lighter than analysts expected. The telco’s revenue for [...]

  • Discovery Corporate New Logo

    APOS: Discovery Partners With CMC for China Theme Centers

    U.S TV group Discovery and Chinese media investor and operator CMC Inc. (China Media Capital) have struck a deal to launch a themed entertainment park business in China. The two companies will also collaborate on the development of a digital science, technology, engineering and math edutainment product, targeting kids age 2-5 years. It will be [...]

  • Korea's JTBC Signs up as Iflix

    APOS: Korea's JTBC Signs up as Iflix Investor and Content Partner

    South Korea’s JTBC Content Hub has become a strategic investor in Iflix, the South East Asia-based video streaming platform. Formed only in 2011, JTBC has rapidly become one of Korea’s most influential broadcasters, with a mix of news, creative dramas and entertainment shows. Its hit dramas include “SKY Castle,” “Misty,” and “Something in the Rain.” [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content