The Korean Film Council (KOFIC), led by recently-appointed chairman Cho Hee-moon, reported on a plan for reform today (November 11) to the Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Yoo In-chon.
The government-funded organisation has recently been suffering through what the labour union called “KOFIC’s greatest crisis” before and after the exit of its much-criticised former chairman Kang Han-sup.
The problems included the staff’s weak performance evaluation and attacks from veteran filmmakers on what they called “leftist favoritism” in the years before Korea’s current right-wing administration took over.
The reform plan outlined a reorganisation grouping different departments together and switching many of its programmes from giving support “before-the-fact” to “after-the-fact”.
This included a proposal to stop giving P&A funds to overseas distributors of Korean films in advance, and instead selecting final recipients after they have finished releasing a film. The same applies to independent and art films – instead of pre-production funds, KOFIC plans to award completed films.
In 2010 to 2011, KOFIC will also create a $17.25m (KW20bn) account to guarantee loans, meant to support Korean films and their development in overseas markets, as well as in the form of co-productions.
To fight piracy, KOFIC will make available an online marketplace for films called KOME – Korean Open Movie Exchange. It estimates KOME will help the online market grow from $14.15m to $252.8m in the next three years.
In an effort to ameliorate the currently poor treatment of below-the-line staff and crew, KOFIC is also planning to create a system which will use 25% of its support programme budget for below-the-line wages, and to make sure the investment funds KOFIC has taken part in support the due payment of staff and crew before all else.
Minister Yoo In-chon urged the KOFIC staff to “meet with filmmakers on a regular basis to find out what they are doing and what they need.”
He also demanded a re-evaluation of state support methods for film festivals such as the recently wrapped Grand Bell Awards, which have been gathering increasing criticism towards the lack of confidence in their selection and awards practices.
According to an initiative to move government offices out of Seoul, KOFIC is now scheduled to move its offices to Busan by December 2012.
It is due to sell its main office building in Hongneung and the Seoul Studio Complex in Namyangju by December 2011, while keeping the Korean Academy of Film Arts (KAFA) building in the Hongdae neighborhood only to re-educate and train film industry workers.