South Korean Actress, National Icon Kang Soo-yeon Named Busan Festival Co-Director

South Korean actress Kang Soo-yeon - P 2015
Courtesy of Busan International Film Festival

Former broadcasting executive Lee Myung-Shik was made deputy director of the Asian film festival as it tries to patch up its relations with local authorities.

Kang Soo-yeon, one of South Korea's most respected actresses, has been named co-director of the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF), organizers said on Monday. Lee Myung-shik, former newsroom chief of broadcaster KNN, was made deputy director.

Kang will share her new role with Lee Yong-kwan, who has served as Busan festival director since its 16th edition in 2011. She will step into the position for the 20th edition, which runs Oct. 1-10 in the South Korean port city.

In March, Lee had announced plans to name a co-director in an effort to resolve escalating conflicts with the Busan metropolitan government over how the festival is run. Busan city finances about half of the annual festival's budget and its mayor, Suh Byung-soo, serves as its chairman. Controversies arose earlier this year when Busan city officials reportedly asked Lee to resign, and local filmmakers have ever since strongly defended the artistic freedom of Asia's largest film event.

"Director Lee Yong-kwan has consulted with many people in the industry and has decided to invite Kang Soo-yeon on board after careful deliberation," said a spokesperson for BIFF.

"It is a very difficult position requiring an immense amount of responsibility, but I will try my best to cooperate with everyone who has helped build this festival," said Kang.

Kang, 48, has been a household name in South Korea ever since she debuted as a child actor in the 1970s. In 1989, she became the first Korean actress or actor to win international recognition by winning the best actress awards at the 44th Venice Film Festival and the 16th Moscow Film Festival for The Surrogate Woman and Come, Come, Come Upward, respectively. Both films are by veteran director Im Kwon-taek.