Jun 2016 VOL.62


  • KIM Joo-sung, CEO of Waw Pictures
  • by KIM Soo-hyun  / 11.17.2014
  • “Waw will become a friend to film productions”

    It is a real challenge to come by a person in Korea who has a deep understanding of the media industry across the board, with experience in broadcasting (CJ Media and On Media), films (Samsung Visual Business Group, CJ Entertainment) and telecommunications (KT Media Hub). KIM Joo-sung has worked in all of these sectors, continually expanding the scope of his activities. Recently, KIM founded Waw Pictures, a film investment and distribution company. KIM emphasizes that although he seems to have had various jobs, he has continually acted as a reliable business partner for creators. He is planning to make Waw Pictures a firm where creators feel at home. We recently interviewed KIM, who opens this next page in his career with a new resolution.
    You have worked in some of the trendiest business sectors. But ultimately you returned to the film production and distribution business.  What factors led to your return?  
    I started in advertising, and it seems that I have worked in many different fields. But one big axis of my career is to have always worked with creators. When creators produced some creative things, I helped them become commercially successful.  Notwithstanding, the reason for my return is simple. It is because I have been most attracted to engaging in creative work. Among creative work, film is what I want to do most, and it is a medium that belongs to the mainstream of creation. To be more exact, Waw Pictures aims to grow into a visual contents investment and distribution company that covers not only film, but also TV dramas and animation.  

    What relationship will Waw Pictures form with KT Media Hub, your former employer?   
    When I quit my company out of the blue, KT chairman HWANG Chang-kyu understood my position. He encouraged me to pursue a better career, saying that I had a passion for contents production. There was no official agreement about any partnership between KT Media Hub and Waw Pictures. But our first two films The Royal Tailor and Yeonae-ui Mat were first developed at KT Media Hub. The success of those two films will benefit KT as well as Wow Pictures. I am grateful to the chairman for his open-mindedness.

    Your first film The Royal Tailor is highly anticipated. KT Media Hub invested in the film. What made KT Media Hub decide to invest in it?
    Surely it was its script. Amadeus is one of my favorites.  In particular, I was drawn in by the depiction of the relationship between Salieri and Mozart, that is, between an ordinary man and a genius. The Royal Tailor has a similar plot element. Gong-jin, played by KO Soo, is a sensual genius designer while Dol-seok played by HAN Suk-kyu is a man who despite his lowly origins became the leading royal costume designer through painstaking effort. The characters of the two men and their relationship are quite interesting.  The confrontation between the two is charged with the king and queen’s agony. The film is also based on fashion in the Joseon Dynasty era, thus its theme comes across as very attractive. It seemed to me that its screenplay could match that of Amadeus. That made me to decide to invest in the film.     

    You are financing The Royal Tailor and Yeonae-ui Mat. Is there any other film that you have decided to invest in? 
    Yeonae-ui Mat will hit theaters in March. It is Option that we are preparing to invest in after that. Option is about options in the stock market. It’s a film of strong suspense, with thriller elements and action added.  We haven’t cast actors for the film yet; currently we are engaged in pre-production work with the producer of the film. The shooting will begin early next year. We are planning to premiere it in the second half of next year. Besides that, we have two works whose screenplays are now being penned. But both of them are both big-budget films, so that they are unlikely to reach theaters next year. It’s too early to tell you about one work, but the other is a period film set against the backdrop of the Joseon Dynasty period. The film is a mystery drama with action and suspense like "The Da Vinci Code". Our distribution arm will be launched after Yeonae-ui Mat.  We are planning to make a lineup of five films including Option and a foreign film. The time to prepare for the year 2015 is close.      

    Once you said that even though a work is still in its planning phase, you will take a risk if the work has future potential. Does this mean that you will be aggressive in investment?  
    The term ‘aggressive investment’ is a little misleading, I think. I mean that we will make films through close cooperation with the producers. As you know, Waw Pictures is taking baby steps. The reality facing us is that we are rarely given promising works with excellent scripts, directors and actors. This fact motivates us to make up our minds to partner with promising productions in the pre-production stage. I want to make Waw Pictures friendly to producers.  
    Since your days as CEO of CJ Entertainment, you have put an emphasis on the importance of overseas markets. These days, the Korean film industry is active in exchanges with China. How will Waw Pictures approach the Chinese market? 
    I was surprised to find out that the Chinese market was hotter than expected.  We are also more interested in various collaborations with China than in merely selling our contents. They can be joint productions, or our production of Chinese film contents. Many people around me have urged me to make films with Chinese investment, saying that it is good to strike when the iron is hot. But I have a different idea.   What Waw Pictures needs most is not money but infrastructure for the production of outstanding contents that can sell in any market.  It should be a priority for us to study what kinds of films can be popular in China. To this end, the top priority should be to build infrastructure.  Therefore, I am placidly observing the Chinese market although others are rushing in. But that does not mean our company is devoid of a business item.  At the moment, we have the exclusive rights to 200 Pounds Beauty. We bought the rights from KM Culture. We are discussing developing the film into a joint production with Chinese companies.     

    What kind of film investment and distribution company do you want Waw Pictures to become in Korea? 
    After several years, I want to hear that Wow Pictures contributed to promoting the Korean cultural wave in the Asian market. In addition, I want to see Waw Pictures position itself as an investment and distribution company that Korean productions can join forces with. I will be happy to hear that Waw Pictures always helps film productions make better films. Last but not least, it will be great if people call Waw Pictures a highly successful film investor and distributor. (laughs) 
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