The Busan International Film Commission Exhibition (BIFCOM), held during the Pusan International Film Festival, is set to merge with the Pusan Promotion Plan (PPP)'s Korean Film Industry Centre to form an expanded industry expo for the Asian market in 2003.

Renamed the Asian Film Industry Center (AFIC), the event will newly feature a film equipment and post-production market catering to Asian filmmakers. This will combine with BIFCOM's existing location expo and an expanded sales market which from 2003 will be open to companies throughout Asia, rather than just Korea.

At the same time, the PPP will continue to operate its pre-market to assist selected Asian projects in the development or pre-production stage to attract financiers and co-producers.

"With AFIC, we will be able to provide comprehensive support for Asian cinema from the initial development of projects to pre-production, location scouting, shooting, post-production and international sales," says Pusan festival chairman Kim Dong-ho.

Now in its seventh year, the Pusan festival has seen rapid growth in the industry-related events which are held concurrent to the festival. This year's PPP was attended by over 1,000 industry guests, with BIFCOM's location expo opening on November 19 with the participation of 41 organisations from 15 countries.

"What we have here at PPP is a multi-purpose business centre with low costs and high productivity, I dare not call it a market. It is more akin to a 7-11 store than a Wal-Mart," said Jung Taesung, head of the PPP. "Now we are adding to the shopping basket and in coming years will add on functionality by covering location services and post-production and turning what was a Korean industry centre into an Asian industry centre."

Jung says that having moved to a new location in the Haeun-dae district of Pusan that the established PPP services will also expand. With a larger budget, PPP will hold more industry screenings, increase the sales offices to include other Asian sales companies and provide accommodation for more foreign buyers.

The festival will also potentially be able to use all 11 screens of the nearby Megabox multiplex - currently only five are open - and another complex which is being built in the same district.

Patrick Frater also contributed to this article.