At the Korean Film Industry: Status And Vision conference over the weekend in Pusan, Korean Film Council (KOFIC) chairman Kang Han-sup took fire as he proclaimed the local industry in a 'great depression' while refusing to speak upon any detailed plans for overcoming the crisis.

Busan Metropolitan City, at the same event, announced it is putting together a $8m-$10m fund to ensure the Pusan International Film Festival (PIFF)'s annual budget, as part of a scheme to make Busan an Asian Cinema Hub - with facilities for development, production, post-production and marketing.

KOFIC and its Namyangju Studio are also due to move from Seoul to Busan by 2012.

Hosted by the Asian Film Institute of Cinema Studies, the Professors Association in Busan and Kyungsung University, and supported by the Pusan International Film Festival (PIFF), the jam-packed event drew in more than the venue's 200-seat capacity with local industry professionals and media concerned about the topic.

Panelists included Tcha Seung-jae, head of Sidus FNH, professor and film critic Yi Hyo-in and Kim Hyung-yang, head of Busan City's Culture, Sports, and Tourism department.

Originally a critic and academic himself, Kang presented a paper he had written in February of this year (before his instatement as KOFIC chairman in May), noting that the local industry has been in depression since 2006 and blaming former administrations and KOFIC councils for their 'low-class progressivism'.

Putting forth his philosophical ideals on the matter, he ultimately stated the need to breathe life into the DVD, IPTV and internet download markets, create an Asian Film Academy to become an international hub for filmmakers, do away with films monopolising screens and creating a new business model for culture and industry.

Tcha criticized Kang's presentation, saying: 'It's been more than 100 days since the new KOFIC administration has taken office, and you would think the chairman would be able to present something more of a blueprint for the industry rather than a paper he wrote as an academic.'

He countered: 'The current status of the Korean film industry is not in a Great Depression - the system needs to break down and stop working for that. This is simply a tightening of the market.'

He added that two solutions would be to lessen the dependency of films on theatrical profits and bringing ticket prices up in accordance with inflation rates. 'Ticket prices have stayed almost the same for the past seven years, while other prices have gone up 30%. If profitability goes up, investors will naturally be attracted again to the sector.'

Kang stated the production of feature films is likely to go down from over 100 to 35 this year, and when pressed for a timeframe on his new plans for KOFIC, he stated they are currently under review and should be out at the end of October.