Busan Festival Founder Kim Dong-ho Gets French Honor

Ongoing Smile H

The South Korean film industry icon gets the highest arts honor handed out by France

Kim Dong-ho, founder and honorary director of the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF), will receive the Legion of Honor (Legion d'Honneur), the highest honor handed out by France's Order of Arts and Literature, the South Korean culture ministry said on Thursday.

The Korean film industry icon will get the honor following the Thursday opening ceremony of the Korean film festival, which runs until Oct. 11 in the southern port city of Busan.

The 77-year-old had previously been promoted to Officier in 2007 after being awarded the Chevalier title by the French government for services in the arts field over an extended period of time. This is the fifth honor Kim has received from French authorities. He has also received the City of Paris Medal and the Deauville City Medal.

Read more Dialogue: Kim Dong-ho

Kim has long been the iconic face of BIFF and an elder statesman of Korean cinema since launching the international event in 1996 and running it until 2010. The festival's rise is widely thought to have aided the growth of Korean cinema and the country's emergence as a major player in the global arts scene.

Last year, Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf made a documentary on Kim's career, entitled Ongoing Smile. Kim himself made his directorial debut with the short film Jury, which premiered at last year's Berlinale.

The 19th edition of BIFF will show 312 films from 79 countries, including a gala presentation of Makhmalbaf's The President. This year's opening film is Taiwanese war drama Paradise in Service.