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We may not have money but we make up for it with class" : freedom of expression and censorship in today's Korean cinema

  • Nemo Kim
Tuesday 2 February 2016
Lipsius building room 005

Pundits both in and outside of Korea have commented on the "tremendous success" Korean cinema has been enjoying in the past few years. Indeed, 2015 has been another remarkable year with one local blockbuster after another breaking all-time box office records. What is less apparent, is that numerous Korean film projects never get the change to be produced, or are not distributed.

Films that are not taken up by the major distribution companies often meet possible distributors at film festivals such as the Busan International Film Festival(BIFF). There, they also get a chance to be picked up by major overseas film festivals such as Berlin, Goteborg and the IFFR.

For many years a symbol of freedom of expression in Korean cinema, the BIFF festival has come under attack from various governmental agencies following its programming and screening last year of a documentary on the 2014 Sewol ferry disaster. Declarations of support for the festival have come from numerous Korean and overseas filmmakers and film festivals. The quote in the title refers to what the festival co-director Kang Soo-yeon (a veteran actress of several Im Kwon-taek films) said about the current situation BIFF faces.

In this lecture Nemo Kim explains the dynamics which exist between Chaebol-owned production/distribution companies, major film festivals and politics and how they affect filmmaking and the distribution process. Attention will also be paid to the government subsidy system for arthouse theatres and how this directly affects their film programming.

About Nemo Kim

Nemo Kim is a journalist based in Seoul where she has reported for KBS, CNN.com, NHK World, Nikkei Asian Review and Variety. She teaches Korean Studies at the Hankuk Univ. of Foreign Studies in Seoul. Prior to that, she taught Korean Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the Univ. of London. She has a BA in English and an MA in Comparative Literature (Univ. of London) and also studied International Relations at the Univ. of Cambridge.

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