Korea's Ministry of Culture and Tourism is reconsidering the financial support it awards to the nation's international film festivals. Faced with a substantial increase in the number of festivals applying for support, the ministry has announced that its current policy will apply only until the end of 2002, after which festivals will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

The ministry's announcement has caused consternation among Korea's festival organizers, as a loss of federal funding would inevitably result in a dramatic downsizing of each event, if not potential closure.

In a meeting with Kim Dong-Ho, director of the Pusan International Film Festival, the ministry's Office of Budget and Planning sought to reassure the nation's largest film festivals that funding would continue after 2002. The exact level of support remains uncertain, however, and festivals will be expected to demonstrate their worth to the ministry.

Korea currently boasts four major international festivals: the Pusan International Film Festival (November 9-17), which receives $775,000 in federal support; the Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival, (July 12-20) receives $390,000; the Jeonju International Film Festival (April 27-May 3) gets $390,000 and the Women's Film Festival in Seoul (April 15-22) is awarded $230,000. Other sources of finance, including corporate sponsoring and ticket sales, make up a considerable percentage of each festival's budget.

Korea's smaller festivals - many of which focus on short films, documentaries and internet films stand to lose much more from the change in policy, as funding for 2002 will be evaluated by the ministry and potentially eliminated from the year 2003.

Korea's smaller festivals include:

Pusan Asian Short Film Festival (2001: May.25-29)
Korean Independent Film and Video Maker's Forum (Indieforum) (2001: June 2-11)
Seoul International Documentary & Video Film Festival (2000: Sept 22-25)
Seoul International Cartoon & Animation Festival (SICAF) (2001: Aug 11-19: biannual)
Seoul Queer Film & Video Festival (2001: Sept 14-16)
Seoul Human Rights Film Festival (SHURIF) (2001: May 18-23)
Seoul Net Festival (SENEF) (2001: Nov 29)
Indiekino International Film Festival (2001: Aug 27- Sept 23)
Kwangju Youth International Film Festival (2000: Oct 20-24)
Seoul International Youth Film Festival (2001: Sept 18-23)