Kim Hong-joon, the popular director of Korea'sPuchon International Fantastic Film Festival (PiFan), has been removed from hisposition due to lobbying by the city's mayor.

The decision wasmade at a meeting of the festival's board of directors on December 29, and Kimwill be replaced by Jung Hong-taek, a former president of the Korean FilmArchive.

In pushing for Kim's removal, mayor HongGeon-pyo argued that Kim's other job - as the newly-appointed head of theSchool of Film, TV and Multimedia at the Korea National University of Arts - wouldprevent him from devoting sufficient time to the festival.

Kim has long held multiple positions within thefilm industry, and also serves as one of the nine commissioners who head theKorean Film Council (KOFIC).

Meanwhile, festival staff maintain that themayor was motivated more by a personal dislike for Kim.

The local film industry has reacted with furyto Kim's removal. A group of leadingfilmmakers, including directors Park Chan-wook, Kim Jee-woon, Bong Joon-ho, HurJin-ho, and actors Choi Min-shik, Moon So-ri, Sol Kyung-gu, and Song Kang-hohave threatened to boycott this year's event, which will be held in July.

In a statement, a group of film-relatedorganisations headed by the Motion Pictures Association of Korea said, "Itis a well-recognised fact that Kim has provided the festival with stability andfirst-rate leadership. Removing himwith two years and four months remaining in his term can only be seen as theheavy-handed meddling of a self-ruling administration."

The PiFan festival was established in 1997, andis recognized as one of Korea's top three festivals together with Pusan andJeonju.