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Busan: Who Is Behind the Lee Yong-kwan Sticker Campaign?

Lee Yong-kwan, deposed earlier this year as head of the Busan Film Festival, may not even be in town this week. But there are still several people showing their quiet support in the form of stickers.

The circular red or while stickers with hashtags “#Support BIFF #Support Mr Lee” were made by some members of the so called ‘Korean Film Groups’ Emergency Committee for Defending BIFF’s Independence.’

They were mailed to film industry professionals in September, and veteran filmmaker Jung Ji-young walked the red carpet with the sticker on his chest on Oct. 6. There were more people wearing them at opening night receptions and other events.

The ‘Emergency Committee’ had organized a boycott of the festival, but the boycott was only partially observed after an early August vote split it down the middle. Some industry members have stayed away from the festival completely this year. Others have decided to voice their continued dissatisfaction with the outcome through the sticker campaign.

“The reason we made these stickers is to say that even if the BIFF is happening this year, it doesn’t mean everything has been normalized,” said director-producer Kim Jho Gwang-soo, who is also a member of the emergency committee. “We wanted to the mayor, the film industry and also the current BIFF organizers understand that having Lee back is very important.”

However, others think that a sticker campaign does not go far enough.

“Even if I understand that there are different ways of supporting Lee, I cannot support the campaign 100%,” said a filmmaker who spoke to Variety on the condition of anonymity. “What we demanded when boycotting the BIFF was an action taken to help Lee regain his damaged reputation. What is the point of spreading such message at a festival that is happening without Lee himself?”

Earlier, renowned producer Lee Joon-dong posted on social media that he would not attend the BIFF without Lee. “A festival is a party, after all. I cannot with any grace enjoy the party and simply ignore Lee, who is suffering political retaliation all alone,” he wrote on Aug. 30.

At Lee’s recent trial on charges of embezzlement, on Sep. 28, prosecutors sought one year of imprisonment. The final sentence is to be passed on Oct. 26. The Korean film industry plans to file a petition to the presiding judge in charge of Lee’s final hearing.

As of Sunday night, a petition in support of Lee had gathered 899 signatures.

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