He is not the first president to visit the festival, but is the first to have made an official speech in the event’s 22-year history.
“Festival director, Kang Soo-youn and chairman Kim Dong-ho have made the very difficult decision to resign after the end of this year’s edition, in the hope that the festival can be normalized. I hope the BIFF regains its reputation,” said Moon.
When asked how the festival’s reputation can be recovered, Moon went back to basics. “It is very simple. The city, or the central government should make sure that they protect the festival’s independence and autonomy by supporting it without interfering [in its decision-making]. I promise that there will be support, but no interference [from the government],” said Moon.
The Busan festival has been in turmoil ever since its 2014 decision to program controversial documentary “The Truth Shall Not Sink With Sewol,” (aka “Diving Bell”) affronted the political views of the city’s mayor. Since then, the city authorities have ousted two of the festival’s founders and cut its budget. A working arrangement has kept the festival happening. But the compromise has not satisfied some of the film industry guilds, which continue a boycott of the festival.