Jun 2016 VOL.62


  • 11.04.2011
    Korean Film Council (KOFIC) Chairman KIM Eui-suk talks to KIM Seong-hoon about promoting Korean cinema internationally
    With his background as a filmmaker whose credits include the seminal hit <Marriage Story> and the period martial arts film <Sword in the Moon>, Kim Eui-suk also spent seven years nurturing the next generation of filmmakers as a professor at the Korean Film Academy of Arts (KAFA), five years as a member the organizing committee of the Jeonju International Film Festival (JIFF), and then time as KOFIC Vice Chairman and Acting Chairman before he was name Chairman in March 2011. From his first day as Chairman of KOFIC, Kim Eui-suk pointed out with force that “the domestic film industry is now saturated,” and that he believes the solution “will be for Korean cinema to move on to foreign markets.”
    - The KOBIZ website has just opened. What was it that triggered KOFIC to start this project?

    = Our primary goal is to accumulate a variety of information on the local and international film industry. Korean filmmakers need information on the film industries of various foreign countries, and foreign filmmakers in turn need information on the Korean film industry. There was a need for such a website in our opinion and since last year KOFIC has been collecting basic information on the film industries, policies, infrastructures, film companies and filmmakers of Korea and major foreign countries. As it has only recently opened, the site is rather regretfully only serviced in Korean and English. The next step that will follow is the ‘matching service’. It will be a service where KOFIC will connect domestic film makers with foreign film makers so that they can do business together. The third step will be ‘consulting’ service. For instance, if a film company doing business in China makes a request, KOFIC will provide information on the Chinese market as advice. The ultimate goal of this three-stage service is to assist filmmakers do better business both in Korea and around the world.
    -You have recently been out of the country often for your work. You must have many fresh new ideas on strategies for promoting Korean films internationally.

    = Although the results are not out yet, directors KANG Je-kyu, HUR Jin-ho and PARK Shin-woo have been getting invitations from China and PARK Chan-wook, BONG Joon-ho and KIM Jee-woon from the States. Director LEE Myung-se is preparing a project in Japan, too. These are mostly in the form of individual directors taking part in foreign projects. It is KOFIC’s duty to let Korean filmmakers know of the situations related to expected future co-production, and to make plans and contingencies in regards to what can happen under the circumstances by heralding them as soon as possible. Without a full preparation and response strategy, the Korean film industry could fall behind. Yet many film makers seem to think co-production is not their problem. It’s natural. To some filmmakers, selling 5 million or 6 million tickets [domestically] is more than enough of a goal. Nevertheless, the Korean Wave started regardless of our wishes and whether we intended it or not, foreign viewers responded to our contents. Now is the time to keep that in mind and work in earnest. It is also important to let all the filmmakers know about it.
    - Currently, KOFIC’s foreign strategy projects can be divided into two large parts. One is helping Korean filmmakers participate in foreign projects. What does KOFIC expect from this?

    = Many Koreans working in technology departments covering post-production, special effects and stunts are now actively involved in projects in Greater China including mainland China and Hong Kong. However there are some concerns in regards to Korean crew members working in China. Although Korea excels in technology such as post-production and special effects in comparison to China at the moment, if China uses its massive capital there is a possibility things may change. They may not acquire technological infrastructure on their own, but import Korean technology-related manpower or merge with and/or acquire Korean companies in the field. What we need to think about next is co-production where Korea and China can share each other’s markets. Until now, investments have been made in films that were already completed, but from now on development is needed in a direction where Korea and China can invest and distribute together.
    - KOFIC’s other major project has been attracting foreign film location shoots to Korea. A new program started this year returning 25% of production costs spent locally if a foreign film is shot in Korea.

    =The Chinese film  <On the Road> and the Japanese film  <Hakuji no Hito> were the first to be chosen. There are two points of merit we can expect from attracting foreign film location shoots to Korea. One is the tourism effect we can expect by promoting Korea to people in various countries abroad, and the other is that young Korean filmmakers may integrate with foreign films in many different ways.

    -China is a market hard to penetrate for a foreign film producer or investor.

    =It is our plan to sign a Korea-China film co-production agreement within the first half of next year. An institutional framework where Korean and Chinese films may be recognized as ‘domestic films’ in each other’s country is in progress. In addition, we’re thinking of ways to promote free exchange of taxes and various film policies.
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