Busan Film Festival Reinstates Former Leaders

Lee Yong-kwan_Jay Jeon - Publicity - H 2018
Courtesy of Busan International Film Festival

Lee Yong-kwan and Jay Jeon will serve as chairman and festival director, respectively.

The Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) on Wednesday announced the return of its former leaders Lee Yong-kwan and Jay Jeon.  

Lee, the former director of the fest, was appointed its new chairman, while Jeon, the former deputy director, was named the new festival director during a special assembly.

The board of the film festival formed a personnel committee on Dec. 5 to seek replacements for former chairman Kim Dong-ho and festival director Kang Soo-youn, who resigned right after the 2017 edition.

Lee is to serve as a chairman for the fest for the next four years, while Jeon's tenure as festival director will last for the next three years.

One of the founding members of the event, Lee had worked for BIFF as program director and deputy director, and later as its festival director. He was forced to step down in 2016 because of political pressure from the now-disgraced Park Geun-hye administration after he pushed on with the 2014 screening of the controversial documentary The Truth Shall Not Sink With Sewol (a.k.a. Diving Bell) against the wishes of the Busan metropolitan government.

Jeon, also a founding member of the festival with Lee, headed the Asian Film Market and served as deputy director of BIFF. He was forced to leave along with Lee.

"We are hoping that the situation will get better, as many in the Korean film industry have pushed for the reinstatement of Mr. Lee and recovering his honor," a representative for BIFF told The Hollywood Reporter.

"It was from Jay [Jeon] that I learned the many things that I have about film ... and how ironic ... I felt my limitations as I was unable to help him through this dishonor. Anyway, I am glad he was able to wrap everything up and wish him all the best in his future endeavors. I would like to say that I, and my generation [of filmmakers], have learned so much from him," director Park Chan-wook said during a private dinner held in Jeon's honor attended by industryites last August.