You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The #MeToo Movement Gains Traction in the Korean Film Business

The #MeToo movement has gained traction in the South Korean film industry.

Sexual harassment and assault victims are speaking out in the wake of rape and sexual misconduct accusations against Venice Golden Lion-winning filmmaker Kim Ki-duk and actor Cho Jae-hyun. Veteran TV actor Jo Min-ki was another high-profile entertainment industry figure who faced allegations that he sexually harassed students at a university where he taught drama. Jo killed himself after the multiple allegations surfaced.

The Korean entertainment industry has seen several actresses commit suicide, leaving behind notes about how they were forced to have sex with sponsors who helped them get roles in TV series and film projects. But, despite a growing wave of outrage, it took a time for any institutional remedies to be offered.

Now, however, as dozens of accusations against high-profile figures have been made and the campaign has gained momentum across the country, the film industry, women’s organizations and the government have started to create corrective measures.

The Korean National Assembly’s Education, Culture, Sport and Tourism Committee, the Korean Film Council (KOFIC) and Women in Film Korea co-launched Deun-Deun: Center for Gender Equality in Korean Film to counsel and support victims, conduct gender researches in the industry and suggest policies. Deun-Deun and KOFIC are jointly hosting a policy forum about gender equality in the film industry on Oct. 9, during the Busan festival.

Apart from the public institutes, the film industry itself is responding to the #MeToo campaign, the growing demand for films made by women filmmakers and stories centering on female characters.

CJ Entertainment’s crime drama “The Negotiation” stars top actress Son Ye-jin (“The Last Princess”) in the lead role. Son has lent her weight to film projects where women characters play major roles — she contributed $885,000 (KRW 1 billion) to 2016 hit “Last Princess,” in which she played the lead.

“There are not many biographies about women in Korea. Nor do I always get the chance to play such a role. In that sense I wanted ‘Last Princess’ to be made smoothly,” said Son.

Fledgling production house Bombard Film has announced that it would make a film version of Korean feminist novel “Kim Ji-young, Born 1982.” A story about a woman in her thirties who experiences gender discrimination, the book has been a best seller since its release in 2016. When actress Jung Yu-mi was announced to play the lead role, she was criticized for “promoting conflicts between genders” A petition was launched calling on the government to stop the film from being produced. Despite that, the film is sailing ahead.

Gender parity has been a big issue at several A-list festivals this year, as Venice, Locarno, Sarajevo and Toronto all signed documents pledging to work toward gender balance. Busan has not signed the agreement, but works by women filmmakers account for almost 30% of the total selection this year, a figure higher than most other film festivals. Two of the three Korean nominees in the New Currents section — “House of Hummingbird,” and “Second Life” — were made by female directors. A majority of the Korean Cinema Today — Vision films, including “Between the Seasons,” “A Boy and Sungreen,” “Bori,” “Sub-zero Wind” and “Youngju,” are stories about teenage girls.

“We [programmers] discussed the gender balance in our selection at our meetings,” Nam Dong-chul, BIFF programmer in charge of Korean selections, told Variety. “Apart from the program selection, events related to gender equality and the #MeToo movements will take place during BIFF.”



More Film

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    'A Star Is Born,' 'Vice' Lead 2018 Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Nominees

    The Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) announced their nominees for the 8th annual AACTA International Awards on Tuesday. “A Star Is Born” and “Vice” lead the pack, with five and four nominations respectively. The two leading films compete with “BlacKkKlansman,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and “Roma” for best film, while Nicole Kidman becomes the [...]

  • China's Government Orders Talent Home to

    After Golden Horse Awards Embarrassment, China Orders Talent Home for Huabiao Ceremony

    China’s government quietly ordered top Chinese talent back to the mainland from abroad this past weekend to attend a Beijing ceremony for its highest film industry honors, the loosely bi-annual Huabiao Awards. The move came just weeks after it directed mainland film executives and talent to snub after-parties and return home as quickly as possible [...]

  • Fotosintesis Readies Mexico-U.S. Immigration Animated Feature

    Fotosintesis Readies Immigration Animated Feature ‘Beast’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    BUENOS AIRES — Mexico City-based Fotosintesis Media, a joint initiative of Mexico’s Mantarraya Group and writer-director Miguel Angel Uriegas, is moving into pre-production this January on “Beast,” the third Mexican animated feature from the cause-driven entertainment label. News of the move comes as Uriegas presents at Ventana Sur’s Animation! forum 15 minutes of work in [...]

  • Scott Derrickson

    'Doctor Strange' Director Scott Derrickson to Return for Sequel

    “Doctor Strange” director Scott Derrickson has signed up for Disney-Marvel’s sequel. The studio, which had no comment, is about to start searching for a writer. Derrickson co-wrote the 2016 original with C. Robert Cargill and Jon Spaihts. Benedict Cumberbatch is expected to reprise his role as Stephen Strange, along with co-stars Benedict Wong and Rachel McAdams. [...]

  • Roma

    'Roma' Keeps Adding Theaters in Mexico

    “Roma,” Alfonso Cuaron’s deeply personal coming-of-age drama, is also a love letter to Mexico City. The sprawling metropolis — its cobblestoned streets, fading movie palaces, and lush parks — is practically a central character in the story of a family grappling with love and loss. Perhaps that’s the reason that “Roma” has been passionately embraced [...]

  • The Favourite

    Breaking Down 'The Favourite's' Insane, Royal Dance Battle (Watch)

    We’ll go out on a limb and say no scene in this year’s crop of awards films was more WTF? than the absurd and delightful royal dance moment in “The Favourite.” Debuting early on in Yorgos Lanthimos’ female love-triangle drama, the dance serves as wonderful reminder that, even when dressed like Merchant Ivory and full [...]

  • Aquaman 2018

    'Aquaman' Reviews: What the Critics Are Saying

    Reviews of DC’s “Aquaman” vary between feelings of surprise and disappointment. Some critics are applauding director James Wan’s strong re-imagining of a previously stale character, while others are harping on DC’s inability to stack up against rival Marvel — but most are just relieved the film isn’t an all-out flop. There are virtually no qualms about [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content