More than 1,000 Korean filmmakers and actors, including Park Chan-wook, Kim Ki-duk and Park Hae-il, have joined a declaration at Busan urging for legislation to ensure an independent special investigation into the Sewol ferry disaster.

Over 300 people are counted dead or missing, with 250 of them minors, as a result of the Sewol ferry sinking this past April.

Perhaps in the largest consolidated action comprising independent and commercial filmmakers as well as actors, the group has announced they will hold a variety of cultural events and activities at the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) in order to communicate their intent to the world’s film community and audiences.

They started with a press conference yesterday (Oct 3) in front of BIFF’s Busan Cinema Center and plan to hold one-person protest demonstrations, flash mobs and a petition campaign over the next fortnight. Yellow ribbons commemorating the lost are visible on participants’ chests as well.

The Truth Shall Not Sink With Sewol

In related news, the festival has seen controversy over its selection of documentary The Truth Shall Not Sink With Sewol in its Wide Angle section. Mayor of Busan, Seo Byeong-soo, who is also head of the BIFF organising committee, reportedly asked the festival to take the film out of the selection.

Directed by investigative reporter and producer Lee Sang-ho and documentary filmmaker Ahn Hae-ryong, the film details issues that arose in the botched Sewol rescue mission. Victims’ families have protested the screening, while others have supported it.

Asked to comment on the controversy, director Bong Joon Ho, who is here on the New Currents jury, said: “It’s my personal opinion, but I think the mayor – it being his first year in office, and the film festival already about to have 20 years of history – I think he might have made a mistake because he didn’t quite know what programming is.

“It’s like going to a famous established restaurant of 20 or 30 years and asking them to take this out and that out of [a delicacy like] Hamheung cold noodles. I think festival directors Kim Dong-ho and Lee Yong-kwan must have forgiven him generously.”

The festival is going ahead with the film’s screenings Oct 6 and 10 as planned, with an early sold out box office.