Korean Film Council Chairman Offers Resignation

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Busan Cinema Center

South Korean filmmakers had criticized Kim Sae-hoon's leadership of the state body even before his tenure began in 2015.

The chairman of the Korean Film Council (KOFIC), a state-backed organization for promoting South Korean cinema, has offered his resignation, the Korean culture ministry said on Thursday.

The news follows the election of Moon Jae-in as South Korea's new president on Tuesday and his inauguration on Wednesday. Moon has promised a reorganization of KOFIC, among other things, in his campaign.

Kim Sae-hoon, an animation expert and professor, had been due to serve through Dec. 30. He was named chairman in January 2015 and had faced criticism from within the Korean film industry even before he began his tenure. Shortly after it became known in December 2014 that Kim would take office, the Korea Film Directors' Society and Korea Scenario Writers Association submitted petitions against the decision.

Last year, when the Korean film scene got swept up in a state-sponsored censorship crisis — a critical issue in the impeachment of former President Park Geun-hye—KOFIC's own employees took up arms against the 52-year-old. The former Park administration has been condemned for compiling a blacklist of artists including the likes of Oldboy helmer Park Chan-wook, which excluded them from government funding.

In December, the council's labor union released a public statement condemning the council's head Kim Sae-hoon for "failing to fulfill his role and endorsing the Park Geun-hye administration's unfair measures to oppress the film industry."

On Feb. 7, the Directors Guild of Korea said that more than 1,000 industry people signed a petition calling for the ouster of Kim among others. Kim previously served as a committee member of KOFIC and the Institute for the Future of State, a think tank run by Park Geun-hye. Kim was reportedly recommended for the KOFIC post by Kim Jong-deok, a former culture minister who has been arrested for his implication in compiling the blacklist.

In spite of the current political climate, however, onlookers say Kim's resignation is unlikely to go into effect as KOFIC itself is currently being audited.

Best known as an academic, Kim is known for teaching in the animation department at Sejong University, directing several animated shorts and heading the Animation Society of Korea.

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