×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

New Leader Promises Reforms at Korean Film Council

Oh Seok-geun, a former filmmaker, is now chairman of the funding body

Filmmaker-turned-administrator Oh Seok-geun has been appointed chairman of the Korean Film Council, South Korea’s film industry regulator and funding body. The position had been vacant for six months following the resignation in dubious circumstances of former chairman Kim Sae-hoon.

During the former chairman’s term, Kofic experienced a number of problems: Kim had been accused of embezzling public money and of colluding with South Korea’s impeached former President Park Geun-hye, who wanted the film industry to serve her nationalist agenda.

Park and her supporters, including former culture minister Cho Yoon-sun and chief of staff Kim Ki-choon, were involved in the notorious blacklist that named almost 9,000 cultural figures deemed to be anti-government. The list was circulated in an effort to exclude artists and companies from funding programs operated by state-controlled agencies, including Kofic. Kim resigned after President Moon Jae-in replaced Park.

In that context, the recent appointment of the new chairman marks the end of the blacklist era. New Kofic chairman Oh supported Moon during his run-up to the election, and was once the first general manager of the troubled Busan Intl. Film Festival back in the 1990s.

“My priority [as the new chairman] is to help Kofic regain its lost trust of the film industry,” said Oh at the time of his appointment. “I will reexamine the funding programs and policies that were unfairly handled during the past government. Programs that were maladapted to exclude certain types of films such as independent films will surely be redesigned.”

Kofic’s labor union has requested that Oh build the environment where staff can work with professionalism, so that the government’s interference in the org’s decision-making process through blacklisting and censorship do not happen again.

A long-term friend of the late Kim Ji-seok, deputy director and chief programmer of the Busan fest, who passed away during last year’s Cannes Film Festival, Oh also mentioned that he would help BIFF recover.

BIFF had been in political trouble with the previous government since the then-festival director Lee Yong-kwan decided to screen “The Truth Shall Not Sink With Sewol,” a documentary on the sinking of a ferry with school children in it, against the previous government’s wishes. Busan Mayor Suh Byung-soo, who was aligned with the previous government and sat on the fest board, had objected to the screening as it showed the authorities in a bad light. Lee was ousted in 2016.

Following the new president’s inauguration and Oh’s appointment, the Busan fest also reinstated Lee as the organizing committee chairman. Oh and Lee joining the troubled organizations as new leaders under the new government is interpreted as a symbolic victory for the Korean film industry that has resisted the political pressure of the previous government.

Before he joined Kofic, Oh had served as the head of the Busan Film Commission, which has played a key role in forming and operating the Asian Film Commissions Network.

“During my term at the Busan Film Council, heads of film industry-supporting agencies in Asia wanted Korea to lead film education and filmmaking activities in the territory … I will support the Korean film industry so that it can expand its market to wider Asia and revitalize regional co-production,” says Oh.

More Film

  • 'Captain Marvel' Lands Day-And-Date China Release

    'Captain Marvel' Lands Day-And-Date China Release

    Marvel Studios’ hotly-anticipated Brie Larson-starring blockbuster “Captain Marvel” will hit Chinese theaters on the same day as it debuts in North America. The female-led picture will release on March 8, 2019, International Women’s Day. Written and directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, the film tells the story of Carol Danvers, a former fighter pilot who joins [...]

  • Peter Rabbit trailer

    Australia Box Office Recovers, Grows 3.8% in 2018

    Gross theatrical box office in Australia grew by 3.6% in 2018, to $890 million (A$1.25 billion). The score was propelled by a rebound in the performance of the top local films. Data from the Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia published Tuesday showed aggregate cinema revenues recovering after a dip in 2017. While the 2018 [...]

  • Why Megan Mullally Won't Talk Politics

    Q&A: Why Megan Mullally Won't Talk Politics While Hosting the SAG Awards

    Megan Mullally is funny. The “Will & Grace” star can also sing and dance. While she’s not picking up the Oscar hosting gig after the Kevin Hart fiasco, Mullally will take center stage on Sunday, Jan. 27 when she makes her debut as the host of the 25th annual SAG Awards. Variety caught up with [...]

  • Glass trailer

    'Glass': Five Box Office Takeaways From M. Night Shyamalan's Thriller

    With his fifth No. 1 box office opening, M. Night Shyamalan has plenty to celebrate. “Glass,” the conclusion to a trilogy that consists of the 2000 cult hit “Unbreakable” and 2016’s box office sensation “Split,” topped the box office last weekend — though its win comes with a few caveats. James McAvoy reprised his role [...]

  • Berlin: Patra Spanou Picks Up Panorama

    Berlin: Patra Spanou Picks Up Panorama Title 'Family Members' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Patra Spanou has picked up world sales rights to “Los miembros de la familia” (Family Members), which will world premiere in the Berlin Film Festival’s Panorama section. Variety has been given an exclusive first look of the film’s trailer. The film is the second feature from writer/director Mateo Bendesky, and is produced by Agustina Costa [...]

  • Great Point Media, The Development Partnership

    Great Point Media, Development Partnership Join Forces on Slate of Movies

    Great Point Media and The Development Partnership, the development and production arm of the talent agency the Artists Partnership, are joining forces to develop, package, and co-produce multiple films, kicking off with three projects, including “Chasing Agent Freegard,” starring James Norton (“War & Peace”). “Chasing Agent Freegard,” which is being produced by “Captain Phillips” co-producer [...]

  • Berlin: FiGa Acquires ‘Landless,’ Drops ‘Hormigas’

    Berlin: FiGa Acquires ‘Landless,’ Drops ‘Hormigas’ Trailer (EXCLUSIVE)

    Sandro Fiorin’s Miami-based FiGa Films, a leading sales agent on the independent Latin American scene, has announced the acquisition of Brazilian doc “Landless,” and released a trailer for the Costa Rican-Spanish drama “El despertar de las hormigas.” Both features will play at this year’s Berlinale Forum and come from young Latin American filmmakers making their [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content