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Kim Dong-ho, co-founder and figurehead of the Busan International Film Festival, has submitted his resignation as honorary director of the troubled festival.

Kim, who is also special adviser to Korea’s president on cinema matters, offered no reason for his move, though avoiding a possible conflict of interest appears a likely explanation.

Since the festival’s last edition in October, BIFF has been embroiled in a protracted battle with the city’s mayor. City authorities have severely criticised festival boss Lee Yong-kwan and are seeking to have final say over the festival’s lineup.

Lee has yet to accept Kim’s resignation.

Meanwhile, at a public hearing in Seoul on Tuesday leading film makers protested against the Busan mayor’s stance.

“Oldboy” director, Park Chan-wook said: “It is the city government, not BIFF, that is being way too political. It is political that the city government themselves consider the programmers’ choice of screening ‘Diving Bell’ as a political decision. It is not about right or left, it is simply about freedom of expression.”