The Korean Film Commission (KOFIC) has announced plans to open an LA office within the first half of the year, as part of an initiative to step up support for Korean films and filmmakers in the US.

'The initiative works on two planes - the industry side and the academic,' says Dong-mi Hwang, a manager in KOFIC's International Promotion Dept.

Sun-young Moon, KOFIC's LA representative and Assistant Director of KOFIC's Filmmakers' Development Lab (FDL) will be in charge of the office.

Last year, the inaugural FDL paired five emerging writer-directors of Korean descent with mentors from the US and Korea. They developed English-language projects and presented them during the Pusan film festival. This year, the projects will also be presented at the IFP Market in New York.

KOFIC has also partnered with the Sundance Foundation to include two Korean filmmakers in the Foundation's international producers' conference. The workshop selects 20 film-makers from around the world each year, and KOFIC is to recommend the two Korean participants.

Expanding upon the Business R&D Campus which saw 20 Korean filmmakers participate in an intensive workshop with China industry experts in Beijing, KOFIC will this year also add workshops in Japan and the US.

On the academic side, KOFIC plans select two US libraries within which to create Korean cinema libraries. KOFIC will provide extensive materials including films, DVDs, and reference books. 'So anyone who wants to study Korean cinema will be able to do so without traveling all the way to Korea,' says Hwang.

Representatives will also be at more academic seminars this year, and offering support to libraries and film studies departments in the way of publications and visual media.

The council is also sponsoring retrospectives and special sections on Korean films at film festivals in the US like the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival and the San Francisco Asian American Film Festival.