Busan Festival Names Deputy Director Amid Further Restructuring

Busan city view - Getty H 2016
Courtesy of Getty Images

Asia's largest and most prestigious film festival replaces the late founding member who died of a heart attack during a state-backed censorship scandal.

The Busan International Film Festival has tapped Kim Bokkeun as its new deputy director, organizers of the South Korean event said Monday. Asia's largest and most prestigious film event also unveiled further changes as its restructuring continues.

Kim, a former head of  Busan-based investment and production company CAC Entertainment's film department and renowned film producer, fills a position left vacant since the death of Kim Ji-seok from a heart attack during the 2017 Cannes Film Festival. The latter's death was particularly tragic not only given his young age of 57, but also because he had been the only founding member of BIFF, on board at the time to fight against a state-backed censorship scandal.

BIFF's other founding members, executive director Lee Yong-kwan and director Jay Jeon, have since been reinstated, while a prize in Kim Ji-seok's honor has been launched. Organizers also announced the production of a documentary and film institute dedicated to the former head programmer and deputy director.

The local film industry has long been curious to see who would be filling the shoes of a figure who had been seminal in not only Korean, but also Asian cinema. The incoming Kim is known for producing 15 film and TV drama projects, including such iconic titles as Art Museum by the Zoo, Interview, Whispering Corridors 5, He's on Duty and Almost Che. "Based on his long-term work experience in film, Kim will be in the forefront of reinforcing the festival organization's administration, HR and structure," said a BIFF representative.

Other restructuring changes include the appointment of Nam Dong-chul, BIFF's longtime programmer of Korean cinema, as the festival's new program director. Nam joined the fest in 2009 as head manager of what is now the Asian Film Market after serving as editor-in-chief of South Korea's most respected film magazine, Cine21.

In another appointment, Moon Hyunjung has been named general manager of the festival office. Moon joined BIFF in 2008 as a public relations manager and went on to become its marketing manager and program manager. 

Meanwhile, fest organizers visited BIFF Square in Nampo-dong, Busan, where the festival originally launched in 1994, for a New Year's kick-off meeting attended by exec director Lee, director Jeon, deputy director Kim and other staff members.

"Through the restructuring process, the Busan International Film Festival aims for higher efficiency in order to lay the foundation for planning for the future and to adapt to the changing environment of the market," BIFF said.