×
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

  • Film Review: The Orphanage

    Cannes Film Review: 'The Orphanage'

    Amusing, at times poignant Bollywood re-creations are used in “The Orphanage” much as Afghan director Shahrbanoo Sadat mixed folklore with realism in her award-winning “Wolf and Sheep,” in both cases to add heightened levels of cultural significance and an element of fantasy as necessary correlatives to hardscrabble lives. While Sadat’s second feature is something of [...]

  • Three Identical Strangers

    Film News Roundup: 'Three Identical Strangers' Feature Adaptation Taps 'Bohemian Rhapsody' Writer

    In today’s film news roundup, “Three Identical Strangers” is moving ahead, Skeet Ulrich has been cast with Tom Hanks, the “Minions” sequel has been titled and “Vegas Dave” is getting a movie. MCCARTEN ATTACHED “Bohemian Rhapsody” screenwriter Anthony McCarten will write and produce the feature adaptation of the documentary “Three Identical Strangers.” Raw, Film4 and [...]

  • Bong Joon-ho, Choi Woo-shik. Director Bong

    Bong Joon-ho's 'Parasite' Earns Five-Minute Cannes Ovation

    Just days after the announcement of the selection of “Parasite” for main competition at the Cannes Film Festival, South Korean director Bong Joon-ho warned members of the local press not to expect his film to win the Palme d’Or. He also suggested that the film was “hyper local” and possibly difficult for foreign audiences to [...]

  • 'Parasite' Review: A Brilliant, Bleak Bong

    Cannes Film Review: 'Parasite'

    A laugh turns into a snarl which gets stuck in the throat like a sob — or an arrow through the neck — in Bong Joon-ho’s latest wild, wild ride, “Parasite.” On paper, that might not sound so very different from the experience of watching Bong’s “Snowpiercer,” “Memories of Murder” “The Host” or “Okja.” The [...]

  • 'Maradona' Director Asif Kapadia Talks About

    'Diego Maradona' Director Asif Kapadia Talks About His Cannes Doc

    Global sports icon and lauded soccer player Diego Maradona’s dramatic life intrigued Oscar and BAFTA winner director Asif Kapadia (“Amy,” “Senna”) while he was still in film school. “It had an incredibly strong backstory and extremes of good and dark,” he recalls. Fast-forward to more than 20 years later as his feature documentary, “Diego Maradona” [...]

  • the long walk

    Stephen King's 'The Long Walk' Film Taps 'Scary Stories to Tell' Director

    New Line has tapped André Øvredal to direct the feature adaptation of Stephen King’s dystopian thriller “The Long Walk.” Øvredal’s credits include mystery thriller “The Autopsy of Jane Doe” and the upcoming horror film “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark,” co-written and produced by Guillermo del Toro and releasing on Aug. 9. James Vanderbilt [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content