KIM Eui-seok, Chairman of KOFIC
“It is time for Korean film to find its role for itself. It will play a role as the window of Asia and bridge to Hollywood. Co-production with foreign countries will be vitalized more and more. What has been surprising news will sound very natural from now on. The change has already started.”
- KIM Ki-duk won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. It is the first grand prize at one of world’s 3 major film festivals. How do you feel as the head of KOFIC?
I’m really thrilled. It is an honor for him and a remarkable achievement of the whole circle of Korean film at the same time. Korean Film Council (KOFIC) held ‘Korean Film Night’ party at the Venice Film Festival for the first time in 7 years. All the cineastes at the party seemed to be highly praising KIM’s Pieta
. Reactions from film related press were very favorable, so expectations were quite high. I had to leave Venice because of other schedules. So I couldn’t attend at the closing ceremony but heard the news by a text message instead. I regret not to have shared the joy at the award presentation. KIM has a high reputation in Europe and his films are also very popular. At the Venice Film Festival, I assured it once again.
- You must be extra happy because KIM has a strong connection to KOFIC.
KIM’s first scenario won at a contest held by KOFIC. We have supported him with film production many times afterwards. Especially we covered 50% of the marketing for Pieta, so we are really delighted. His winning of the award this time showed how powerful Korean film is in the world. Europeans consider Korean film as the leader of Asia. Many foreign cineastes are envious because of the fact that KOFIC contributes to development of Korean film in many ways. We will continue trying our best to be of help to Korean film.
- One of the most remarkable of KOFIC during this year was enhancement of diplomatic relations with China. What do you focus on in terms of promotion to Chinese market?
2012 is the 20th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between Korea and China. We have moved back and forth between the two countries to hold the ‘Korean-Chinese Film Festival’ so far. This year, to commemorate the 20th anniversary, we held a film festival on a large scale and a forum. We are also working on co-production with China. There is a limitation of quota for foreign films in China. However, if we make an agreement on co-production, we can screen as many films as possible without respect to the quota regulation. Another thing we did is that we opened a film business center in China. At the film business center, we will provide with translation and interpretation service. Beijing office of KOFIC is going to serve as the base for business matching and co-production between the two nations.
- KOFIC has been making a great effort in Korean-Chinese co-production. Specifically what accomplishments have been made until now?
Chinese film market is being developed at a very high rate. While the result product used to be exported to China in the past, we are more focused on intensive co-production these days. This is a crucial and meaningful change because we try to share human resources such as directors, actors, production staff and post-production companies. We have already come up with outstanding achievements. Late Autumn
, directed by KIM Tae-yong
and starring Korean actor HYUN Bin
and Chinese actress TANG Wei, and Bunshinsaba
, a horror film directed by AN Byung-ki
, are massive hits at the Chinese box office. Dangerous Liaisons
, directed by HUR Jin-ho
and starring JANG Dong-gun
from Korea and Cecilia CHEUNG and ZHANG Ziyi from China, is about to be released. It has been gathering high expectations from people. KIM Yong-hwa
has secured 25% of production cost from China for MR.GO
. There are a lot more ongoing co-production projects. The number of co-production films that succeed in both Korea and China will increase. I think it is the fruiting season now.
- What other things is KOFIC focused on to support for international exchange?
We have run ‘Co-production Incentive’ Project to invest KRW 500 million (USD 446,500) in each of 5 films for invigoration of co-production. We worked with various countries including Japan, the United States and China. ‘Location Incentive’ Project has been constantly run, too. This is a project to support foreign films shot in Korea aiming to make foreign cineastes aware of the fact that ‘Korea has good environments to make films.’
- What is the ultimate goal of support for international exchange?
Whereas out initial goal was to let Korean films known to the world through foreign film festivals, now we are working on industrial development and local expansion. Merely exporting Korean films is not enough. We need to export excellent manpower including directors, actors and staff as well as technology. When exportation of film service industry is generalized, we will have to step further and exchange film making system. We are currently cooperating with Asian countries like China and Japan, but our next target is North America, that is Hollywood. KIM Jee-woon
, PARK Chan-wook
and BONG Joon-ho
are in Hollywood directing films now. This means that Hollywood is also looking for new contents to expand to Asia. It is time for Korean film to find its role for itself. It will play a role as the window of Asia and bridge to Hollywood. Co-production with foreign countries will be vitalized more and more. What has been surprising news will sound very natural from now on. The change has already started.
- You are half way through your term on the position. How would you evaluate yourself?
Of 3 years of my term, 1 year and a half has passed. I’m precisely at the mid point, where I should look back. When I was appointed as the chairman, I had 3 goals. First, I wanted to forward Korean film market to the world. Second, I wanted to build a win-win environment for both big enterprises and film industry. Last, I wanted to create a new paradigm by starting the age of KOFIC Busan. I think I’m on the right track to achieve all the goals. We gained a foothold from film exchange with China and are heading for American market. We established Declaration of Cooperative Growth for Korean Film and set 13 topics to discuss and find solutions for. As we move to Busan, we will found a new infrastructure to prepare for the future. Even if I cannot accomplish all the goals, I will make effort to draw a nice blue print at least. I’m committed to build a strong basis.