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Ko - production in Busan
  • Jamie SHIM Named Director of a Korean Film Gender Equality Center, Deun Deun
  • by SONG Soon-jin /  Mar 27, 2018
  • What All Korean Female Filmmakers Want in One Place

    Ever since the #MeToo Movement, the world has been faced with a gust of feminist ideology. In the Korean film industry, the establishment of the film gender equality center, Deun Deun, took its meaningful first step. The Korean Film Council (KOFIC) and Women In Film Korea founded the Deun Deun (Korean title) Center and held the opening ceremony on March 12 where they announced that they would no longer be onlookers of sexual abuse and discrimination that occur in the film industry. In the middle of it, all were director YIM Soon-rye and the co-director of the center and CEO of Myung Films, Jamie SHIM. She is a first-generation Korean producer who often dealt with films focusing on females such as The Contact (1997), Forever The Moment (2008), Cart (2014), and I Can Speak (2017). Jamie SHIM has participated as a regular panelist at discussions held by the SEOUL International Women’s Film Festival (SIWFF) since 2016 and became concerned about the lack of support for female filmmakers in policies. We met with Jamie SHIM, who is active both inside and outside of the industry, to discuss the background behind the founding of the Deun Deun Center and her plans for the center’s future.

    The #MeToo Movement is going on strong. However, I’m told that the Deun Deun Center isn’t a result of the movement. How did you come to preparing for the center?

    The Deun Deun Center isn’t a product of Hollywood’s #MeToo Movement. The biggest trigger happened in May of 2016 at a forum by SIWFF called, “The Equal Power of Swedish Women's Cinema,” where we discussed if there could be gender equality in film. At the time, I was invited to the forum with the CEO of the Swedish Film Institute, Anna Serner. I was quite surprised by their equal industry policies. Their implemented policies weren’t something we could catch up to, and I received a culture shock. After that, SIWFF’s director KIM Sun-ah, programmer CHO Hye-young and I had a discussion about gender equal film policies. At the 2017 SIWFF, there was a policy talk called “Gender Equality in the Film Industry - How will it be accomplished?”, while the Busan International Film Festival organized “Talks on Film Policy of Gender Equality #2”. The center is a result of these discussions. We recognized that we needed gender equal policies and that there were problems of sexual abuse. We all agreed that there needed to be an organization run by female filmmakers. Starting in March of 2017, we researched sexual abuse cases in the industry with KOFIC’s HAN In-cheol of the Fair Environment Center and discussed the start of a standing organization. We were able to open the Deun Deun Center after a year of discussion.

    How is the Deun Deun Center run?

    Director YIM Soon-rye and I are acting as co-directors. An expert advisor HAN Yoo-rim will be working full-time. We have an advisory committee, research committee, and a steering committee. In the advisory committee, we have representatives from the Producers Guild of Korea and The Association of Korean Independent Film & Video among other organizations. We also commissioned Attorney WON Min-kyung, Professor LEE Na-young from the department of sociology at Chung-Ang University, and a psychiatrist. The steering committee will be in charge of running the center. Five directors from Women In Film Korea will carry periodical meetings. The research committee will be put together on a case-by-case basis should an issue require research. HAN Yoo-rim’s role will be very important as she will be in charge of consulting, processing applications, and receiving reports. Whether the victim wants mediation, an apology or to take legal measures, she will research and take necessary actions. We also created an operations manual for different types of cases.

    In order to keep the organization going, the budget could become an issue. In the States, The TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund (TIME’S UP) was established so that both Hollywood celebrities, as well as the public, could participate. Do you have any plans to organize such a fund?

    Many people tell me that they want to support the Deun Deun Center. After the news of our opening ceremony went out, actress and director MOON So-ri told us that she wants to start a fund based on Korean actors. At the moment, we don’t have any plans to start a fund at the center ourselves. We have to look at the long run, so it’s important to get the support of the government. We need at least 100 thousand dollars a year for operating expenses, and we need it to be renewed yearly. We were able to get where we are now thanks to the interest of KOFIC and their support. The Deun Deun Center is getting support from KOFIC right now, and we plan on receiving an additional special fund from them in the future.

    You met with representatives from various organizations, including the Directors Guild of Korea, prior to the opening ceremony. What kind of reactions did you notice?

    We had the opportunity to tell organizations in advance about our plans of running the center as well as our objective. Many of them told me they would support us. We had a discussion about what kind of prevention training for sexual abuse and sexual harassment were carried out in the past, and I shared my opinions. Starting from 2017, sexual harassment prevention training became compulsory by the labor union. The Producers Guild of Korea requires all production budgets to include a lecture to educate staff on sexual harassment, while the Association of Korean Independent Film & Video establishes a system to make such training obligatory. 

    Are you looking at international cases for reference?

    Sweden, the UK, and Australia’s gender equality policies are something we should be benchmarking. Also, many Hollywood female stars like Meryl Streep are voicing their thoughts through the Time’s Up Movement, which has become a motivation for me.

    What is the Deun Deun Center’s long-term plan, and what do you wish for the organization?

    I want the studies done on gender equality policies to develop into policy proposals, then to be passed as policies. With ‘50:50’ as our motto, I want to draw aggressive support for feminist films, films of female filmmakers, and films that star women. In addition, I want to make it possible for the Korean Box Office Information System to pull figures related to women. For the first time in 2017, KOFIC reported on statistics related to gender recognition in their yearly report. From now on, a section on female films should be included in the report, as well as statistics on the gender ratio in each industry.
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