×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Korean Film Council Apology Reveals Devastating Extent of Blacklist Policy

The Korean Film Council (KOFIC) has admitted to being involved in some 56 cases where artists, whose names appeared on a government blacklist, were denied public funding.

The revelation came on Wednesday as the new chairman of KOFIC Oh Seok-geun read out a letter of apology to the film industry. The cases were unearthed by a Ministry of Culture and Sport fact-finding commission.

Both the previous minister of culture and a senior advisor to Korea’s previous president Park Geun-hye have been jailed for assembling the blacklist. The existence of the secret list, which ran to over 10,000 targeted individuals who did not share Park’s politics, was a significant contributor to Park’s impeachment.

Oh detailed how KOFIC had colluded with the government, and revealed for the first time that the policy extended not only to Park’s regime. It also collaborated with the regime of previous president Lee Myung-bak.

“Under the past two governments, KOFIC had been involved in creating the ‘blacklist’ of cultural industry talent and discriminating and excluding them [from support programs],” said Oh. “In 2009, KOFIC unfairly intervened in a number of support programs’ selection processes and employed expedients to select the beneficiaries, following the Blue House (office of the president) guidelines.”

Oh said government authorities issued guidelines to KOFIC in 2009, listing what filmmakers were proscribed from when applying for KOFIC support. KOFIC then reported back the names of disqualified filmmakers and companies, and let the government make final decisions.

The list included individual filmmakers and communities who participated in the mass anti-government protests or were considered “progressive.” Also targeted were films classified as “problematic” by the Blue House because they addressed themes including labor, the Sewol ferry disaster, national security laws, or sexual minorities. It hit companies, festivals and theaters that produced, distributed or screened those films. The screening of documentary “The Truth Shall Not Sink with Sewol,” at the 2015 Busan festival sparked a schism within the industry from which it is only now recovering.

Oh promised further investigation, compensation for victims, and new policies to prevent a recurrence. He also suggested that KOFIC, which is both industry regulator and film financier, may halt investment through its use of the fund of funds top-up mechanism.

“Film financing is now so market-driven now that it may no longer be our role to intervene. Our task force was skeptical whether KOFIC’s investments through the Fund of Funds actually causes trickle down effect for small films,” said Kim Hyun-soo, KOFIC’s director of planning and coordination.

Oh said that he will steer KOFIC to become a pan-Asian film industry-support organization; seek to make Korea the hub of the Asian film industry; and set up a production guarantee fund to revitalize mid to low budget Korean film productions.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • She Monkeys

    LevelK Boards International Sales on Lisa Aschan's 'Call Mom!' (EXCLUSIVE)

    LevelK has acquired international sales rights to Lisa Aschan’s new film “Call Mom!”, a sequel to her well-received feature debut, “She Monkeys.” Produced by Anna-Maria Kantarius (“Amateurs”) at Garagefilm Intl., “Call Mom!” follows Niki, a 35-year-old who lives like she’s 25 and is forced to come to grips with all of her relationships and past [...]

  • The Spokeswoman

    Mexico’s Luciana Kaplan on Indigenous Candidate Doc ‘The Spokeswoman’

    In 2017, Luciana Kaplan’s globe-spanning documentary feature “Rush Hour” was selected as the best in competition at that year’s Morelia Intl. Film Festival – only one of many such plaudits for the film – and the director returned to the festival Impulso section for pix-in-post with her next latest, “The Spokeswoman,” taking three of the [...]

  • Ella Balinska, Kristen Stewart and Naomi

    China Box Office: 'Charlie's Angels' Kept Earthbound by Local Romcom

    The new “Charlie’s Angels” reboot was no match for a local romantic comedy or a 20-year-old Giuseppe Tornatore film at the Chinese box office, bringing in just $7.6 million in its debut weekend, according to figures from consultancy Artisan Gateway. Directed by Elizabeth Banks and starring Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott and Ella Balinska, the film [...]

  • Climbing Blind

    ‘Climbing Blind’ Snares Kendal Mountain Festival Grand Prize

    KENDAL    “Climbing Blind,” from Alastair Lee, took the Grand Prize at the 2019 Kendal Mountain Festival on Saturday. Detailing the ascent of a vertical rock pillar, the film revealed how a blind mountaineer led the climb, assisted only by a sight-partner a rope length below. The film had particular significance for a British audience, [...]

  • Jon Voight'Maleficent: Mistress of Evil' film

    President Trump to Award Jon Voight the National Medal of Arts

    President Trump will present actor Jon Voight, musician Allison Krauss, and mystery writer James Patterson with the national medal of arts. Voight is one of few in Hollywood who has been vocal about his support of President Trump in the past, calling him “the greatest president of this century.” The White House announced four recipients [...]

  • Zack Snyder arrives at the 2018

    'Justice League': Gal Gadot, Ben Affleck, Zack Snyder Support Release of 'Snyder Cut'

    Zack Snyder, Gal Gadot, and Ben Affleck have taken to social media to request that Warner Bros. release the Snyder cut of “Justice League.” Snyder, who helmed “Man of Steel” and “Batman v Superman” and was “Justice League’s” original director, had to leave production on the film partway through after his daughter died, with Joss [...]

  • Whose Side Is 'Marriage Story' On?

    Whose Side Is 'Marriage Story' On? (Column)

    Do we choose sides when we watch “Marriage Story,” Noah Baumbach’s brilliant and wrenching drama of divorce? The question, on the face of it, sounds facile in a dozen ways the movie isn’t. Rarely are there winners in divorce, and there are two sides to every breakup. “Marriage Story” is a movie that reflects that [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content