Korea's newly-galvanised film commission, KOFIC, is courting international partners to rebuild the country's recovering film industry with $3m in government cash.
KOFIC's international business chief Paul Yi has been in Berlin alerting potential production and distribution partners to the government's new pro-film structures. These include $15m of incentive funding, at least $3m of which is earmarked for international assistance.
'We have borrowed models from around the world and now have the infrastructure to make things really happen,' said Yi. To show that it means business KOFIC is currently hatching two international co-productions that it will unveil by Cannes. 'I want these two to be taken as an example of what we can do,' said Yi.
KOFIC has established three separate funds to support co-productions. The first is a marketing fund intended to promote the region. The second, modelled on Germany's NRW Filmstiftung, is a regional economic fund with the Seoul and Kangwon provinces possibly the first to benefit. KOFIC has also borrowed from the UK to establish the Asian Co-production Fund, which may have separate strands to underpin international production with North America, Europe and other parts of Asia. A fourth fund, resembling one run by the CNC in France, will provide p&a support to distributors.
'International is an open door,' said Yi. 'Since the lifting of restrictions we have recently seen a Korean film top the BO charts in Japan and a have a Japanese film at number one in Korea. We are extremely keen to build relations with China.'
While cinema in Korea is no longer the goldmine for foreign sales companies which used to count on the territory for up to 10% of pre-sales budgets, the country has already made a remarkable recovery from simultaneous catastrophes. These included the region's economic and currency meltdown, hostile relations with Hollywood over screen quotas and the abandonment of cinema by the chaebols, the massive trading houses that moved into media and film in the early 1990s.