‘Movies be­long to peo­ple’

Ac­tress Kang voices con­cern over gov’t in­ter­fer­ence

The Korea Times - - CULTURE - By Ko Dong-hwan jhkim@ktimes.com

Veteran South Korean ac­tress Kang Soo-yeon has hit out against gov­ern­ment in­ter­fer­ence in the film in­dus­try.

Kang, 51, di­rec­tor of the 22nd Bu­san In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val (BIFF), was speak­ing on Thurs­day dur­ing a press con­fer­ence for the open­ing film “Glass Gar­den.”

The ac­tress, an in­ter­na­tion­ally ac­claimed movie star from the 1980s to the end of the 1990s, re­ferred to au­di­ences who watch and love films as “the ones who have nur­tured film fes­ti­vals as they are now.”

“Film fes­ti­vals should be purely a chan­nel for con­nec­tion be­tween movies and au­di­ences,” she said. “No mat­ter what kind of cir­cum­stances they may be un­der, whether about po­lit­i­cal, so­cial or eco­nom­i­cal frame­works, film fes­ti­vals must value films and au­di­ences the most.”

Kang was re­fer­ring to the past Korean gov­ern­ment’s at­tempt to black­list lib­eral-minded artists, anti-gov­ern­ment cul­tural fig­ures and pro­gres­sive politi­cians and sup­press them with so­cial dis­ad­van- tages.

In late Septem­ber, in­ves­ti­ga­tors at the Seoul Cen­tral Dis­trict Pros­e­cu­tors’ Of­fice raided the homes of for­mer Na­tional In­tel­li­gence Ser­vice of­fi­cials to se­cure doc­u­ments, cell phones and elec­tron­i­cally stored data that could prove the for­mer con­ser­va­tive Lee Myung-bak ad­min­is­tra­tion’s in­volve­ment in mak­ing the black­list.

The black­list of 82 peo­ple in­cluded Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon, ac­tor Moon Sung-keun and come­di­enne Kim Mi-hwa.

“As long as there are beau­ti­ful movies and au­di­ences who love those movies, film fes­ti­vals must be kept alive. And Bu­san film fes­ti­val must not for­get this prin­ci­ple as well,” Kang said at the Bu­san Cin­ema Cen­ter in Hae­un­dae-gu.

Fric­tion within

Dur­ing the con­fer­ence, Kang qui­etly shared words with Oliver Stone, the Academy Award-win­ning U.S. film pro­ducer, who sat next to her.

Stone will lead four ju­rors for New Cur­rents, a com­pet­i­tive sec­tion that in­tro­duces the works of up-and-coming Asian di­rec­tors.

The fes­ti­val runs through Oct. 21, with 298 films from 75 coun­tries show­ing on 32 screens in five theaters.

Kang, along with BIFF Chair­man Kim Dong-ho, will quit the com­mit­tee af­ter the 22nd edi­tion of the film fes­ti­val. Kang and Kim have been at odds with staff of the or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee af­ter the screen­ing of the doc­u­men­tary “Div­ing Bell: The Truth Shall Not Sink With Se­wol” was can­celled in 2014 fol­low­ing op­po­si­tion from Bu­san Mayor Seo Byung-soo.

The film, di­rected by jour­nal­ist Lee Sang-ho based on in­ter­views and news footage, shows the then Park Geun-hye gov­ern­ment’s “in­com­pe­tence” af­ter the ferry Se­wol sank in wa­ters off the south­west­ern port city of Jindo.

The in­cid­net killed more than 300 pas­sen­gers, mostly high school stu­dents who were on ex­cur­sion to scenic Jeju Is­land.

The can­cel­la­tion of the screen­ing of the doc­u­men­tary caused a stir among peo­ple in the film in­dus­try and the Di­rec­tors’ Guild of Korea con­sist­ing of some 300 film­mak­ers has since boy­cotted the film fes­ti­val over al­leged gov­ern­ment in­ter­ven­tion.

It also di­vided the or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee.

Staff of the com­mit­tee ac­cused Kang and Kim of al­legedly sid­ing with the Bu­san mayor, with­out mak­ing ef­forts to make film­mak­ers’ voices heard. The two sides clashed in Au­gust when BIFF staff took col­lec­tive ac­tion to de­mand Kang step down from the post to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for the di­vi­sion. Kang later said she would step down at the end of this fes­ti­val.


Kang Soo-yeon speaks at the open­ing of a photo ex­hi­bi­tion about leg­endary South Korean ac­tor Shin Seong-il at the Bu­san Cin­ema Cen­ter, Thurs­day.

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