Kim Dong-ho Begs Korean Industry to End Busan Festival Boycott

Kim Dong-ho, co-founder and newly appointed chairman of the troubled Busan International Film Festival, urged the Korean film industry to end its proposed boycott of the upcoming event.

Kim made the appeal at an event Thursday which was seen as the embattled festival’s final attempt to win back support of local film makers.

The festival has been in turmoil since October 2014 when the city mayor Seo Byung-soo objected to the programming of a controversial documentary, and since moved to force festival director Lee Yong-kwan out of his job. Both Lee and deputy director Jay Jeon have also been charged with fraud.

Kim said that revisions will be made to the festival’s regulations in the coming months and said that he personally would ensure the independence, autonomy and political neutrality of BIFF.

In April this year nine major film industry organizations took collective action to form the Korean Film Groups’ Emergency Committee for Defending BIFF’s Independence. They called for Seo’s resignation as BIFF chairman, changes to its regulations and for an apology. Seo has resigned.

Kim has met with the Committee, but says meeting its other demands may not be easy. He also warned that it will be extremely difficult for BIFF to invite films if the industry’s boycott is not dropped by the end of July at the latest.

“Having our first non-governmental chairman, is our first step towards having freedom of expression guaranteed,” said BIFF director Kang Soo-youn. “Many say we should choose not to hold the festival this year (if the controversies remain unsolved, but there is no guarantee that we can restart (in 2017), if we skip this year.” The festival is currently set to run October 6—15, 2016.

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