Cho Hee-moon forced to resign from KOFIC; Pretty Pictures raises transparency issues over The Housemaid.

Korean Film Council (KOFIC) Chairman Cho Hee-moon has been forced to resign 14 months into his term.

South Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism compelled Cho to resign after suggestions that he had pressured selection committee members to choose certain projects over others for the Independent Film Production Support programme grants.

“Looking back, it seems like there have been several kinds of charges, but I am certain there have not been any concrete issues that I should be responsible for that have been proven as facts and connected to corruption,” said Cho.

Cho had replaced Kang Han-sup last September after Kang was forced to resign prematurely over mismanagement of the government-funded organization. This particular term for KOFIC chairperson is meant to run until next May. Vice chairman Kim Eui-suk will be acting chairman in the interim, although it remains to be seen who the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism will next appoint to the position.

In other KOFIC-related news, French distributor Pretty Pictures has raised transparency issues with KOFIC over their Overseas P&A Fund after Cannes competitor The Housemaid failed to win support for distribution in France. When asked to reveal jury members and final recipients for the fund, KOFIC responded that it was under no obligation to make these public.

“Pyongyang really is far more transparent these days,” declared Pretty Pictures head James Velaise, who previously bought and distributed North Korean film A Schoolgirl’s Diary. The company also has distributed several other South Korean films such as Im Sang-soo’s The Old Garden and Kim Ki-duk’s Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring, and it pre-bought The Housemaid.

KOFIC said they might be willing to start making public the results of the P&A Fund recipients starting next year, although they have no plans to include it in their 2011 budget.