Busan: South Korean Auteur Hong Sang-soo Receives Top French Honor

Hong's 2012 'In Another Country'

French Culture Minister Fleur Pellerin handed the Arts and Letters Medal to the minimal realist and emphasized the importance of Franco-Korean cultural exchanges.

South Korean filmmaker Hong Sang-soo received a top honor from the French government on Friday during the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF). French Culture Minister Fleur Pellerin handed the Arts and Letters Medal to the realist auteur during her visit to the South Korean port city.

"Hong Sang-soo has been compared to [French master director] Eric Rohmer," said Pellerin during the awards ceremony. "His films are uniquely Korean but at the same time universally appealing."

Hong is one of the most well-known Korean auteurs in France. He is a regular guest at the Cannes Film Festival, and won the 2012 Prix Un Certain Regard for Hahaha.

Meanwhile, Pellerin's visit comes in time for 2015-2016 of France-Korea Bilateral Exchanges, for promoting cultural ties between the countries.

"South Korea's movie industry is highly advanced and dynamic and so is France's. Both citizens also value cultural diversity,"  said the minister. "Next, we should boost partnerships in the fine arts. We should increase opportunities in which young artists from our countries get to better understand one another."

In 2006, the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at enhancing film collaboration. The two countries have since seen numerous co-productions, such as Hong's 2012 In Another Country, starring iconic French actress Isabelle Huppert, and the 2013 blockbuster Snowpiercer, which is based on the French graphic novel Le Transperceneige.

Busan, meanwhile, presented a special section "My French Cinema," featuring 10 pieces of classic and contemporary French titles, for its 20th-anniversary edition. Sophie Marceau, one of the most beloved French actors in Korea, also arrived in Busan to promote her latest film, Jailbirds, along with prominent directors Claude Lelouch and Leos Carax.

Last year, BIFF founder/honorary director Kim Dong-ho was decorated by the French government. Kim attended the reception on Friday along with BIFF director Lee Yong-kwon and co-fest director-actress Kang Soo-yeon. Also present were Fabien Penone, French ambassador to Korea; Charles Tesson, artistic director of Cannes Film Festival's critics' week; and other VIPs.

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