Huh is a film critic and has until recently been program director of the Busan Cinema Center. He was previously a Korean cinema programmer at the Busan festival for five years from 2002 after having built his journalism career at current affairs magazine JoongAng Monthly and film magazine Cine21.
Another face familiar in the city, Oh Seok-geun will replace Tcha Sung Jai as the co-director of the Asian Contents & Film Market (ACFM). A producer (“The 101st Proposition,” “Love Is A Crazy Thing”) turned film industry administrator, Oh was until January chairperson of the Korean Film Council (KOFIC). Before that, he headed the Busan Film Commission and the Asia Film Commissions Network.
Both appointments were announced Thursday at the end of the festival’s annual general meeting. “With many years of experience in the film industry, the newly appointed directors Huh Moon-young and Oh Seok-geun will be at the forefront of successfully holding the festival and market, and developing its visions for the future,” the festival organizing committee said in a statement.
This year’s 26th edition of the Busan festival will take place Oct. 6-15, 2021. The Asian Contents & Film Market will run Oct. 11-14, 2021.
Insiders like Huh and Oh may be crucial to keeping the festival on track. It has been buffeted by years of infighting and of political conflict with previous regimes in the city and national government. Unconfirmed sources suggest that the festival’s funding from the city may be significantly trimmed this year.
Jeon, one of the festival’s three co-founders, had a three-year contract as director but he did not seek a renewal. In notifying his surprise departure, Jeon highlighted the ongoing struggles.
“My time has mostly been happy and rewarding although some of it was peppered with some painful moments, he said on Facebook. “I feel extremely sad that I am leaving BIFF not having resolved the difficult issue of the founders and leaders of BIFF being pitted against each other as they are exploited by politicians driven by various ulterior motives.”