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Korean Film News
Dismissal of Jeonju festival programmer sparks controversy
Jun 22, 2012
The controversial firing of YOO Un-seong, who has served as one of the main programmers of the Jeonju International Film Festival over the past eight years, is shining a spotlight on the relationship between film festivals, local press, and the international film community.
On June 5, JIFF officially notified YOO of his dismissal from his post. The primary reason cited was a response by the programmer to a question posed by a local journalist during the closing press conference of the 2012 edition. Questioned about the festival's lack of non-film related events, YOO responded that JIFF was “literally a ‘film’ festival, not a festival where films are screened on the side." Local journalists, objecting to the harsh tone of YOO’s reply, reportedly pressured the festival to dismiss the programmer, and a decision was made to do so at a private meeting between five members of the executive committee in early June.
YOO, who has rejected the festival's reasons for firing him as groundless, has called publicly for his reinstatement. He has received letters of support from numerous directors, festival programmers and film industry professionals from around the world attesting to his accomplishments as a programmer, and on June 10, 16 JIFF employees released a public letter calling for his reinstatement. In response, the festival released a list of five official reasons for the dismissal, which YOO and many of his supporters have criticized as insufficient.
In its 13 editions to date, JIFF has carved out a niche as a festival devoted to independent, low-budget art films from around the world. It receives significant financial support from both national and regional governments, and is generally recognized as one of Korea's three biggest and highest-profile film festivals.