Film director Lee Chang-dong (Oasis), who has served as South Korea's Minister ofCulture and Tourism since February 2003, was replaced on Wednesday in a cabinetreshuffle.
The move, which was widely expected, sees Chung Dong-chaetake over leadership of the Ministry.The 50-year old Chung worked as a journalist for many years beforeserving as President Roh Moo-myun's chief of staff prior to his election.
Lee, who was Korea's first film director ever to hold acabinet position, was seen as an effective and at times unorthodox leader whosought to reform the strict heirarchy and formalities of the Ministry.
He was best known as a staunch defender of Korea'scontroversial Screen Quota System, which has become a flashpoint of controversydue to U.S. pressure to reduce or eliminate the system.
In mid-June, the film community was shocked when Leeannounced that the Ministry had changed its position on the quota, and wouldevaluate the necessity of weakening or altering the system. Film industry people have respondedwith protests, including a major rally on June 22.
Meanwhile the president's office has announced that Chung isexpected to promote "competitive policies concerning the culturalarena," which some read as a sign that the quota will be reduced.
Lee, a former novelist who won the Best Director prize atVenice in 2002 for Oasis, declined tospeak to the media about his future plans. Many consider him to be among the most talented of Korea'sdirectors, and news about any future projects will be eagerly anticipated.