Jeonju Film Fest to Proceed Solemnly as South Korea Mourns Shipwreck

Ko Suk-man Jeonju International Film Festival - P 2013
Courtesy of Jeonju International Film Festival

Ko Suk-man Jeonju International Film Festival - P 2013

The top indie/art house event won't be rolling out the red carpet as the Asian country remains shocked by a ferry disaster that has left hundreds of schoolchildren missing.

SEOUL – The 15th Jeonju International Film Festival will open as scheduled May 1, organizers said, but without glitzy red carpet photo ops. The southwestern city of Jeonju is located in the same province as Jindo, near which a recent ferry disaster has left 87 dead and hundreds of others missing.

"We have contemplated canceling the festival in light of (the ferry disaster). But as online ticket sales are complete, we have decided to proceed with the festival as planned, though with a mourning heart," JIFF organizers said Monday.

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A ferry, Sewol, carrying 476 passengers sank Apr. 16 off the southwestern coast of Jindo, leaving 87 dead and 215 missing. There were some 300 high school students on board for a school trip. Though a massive rescue mission has been underway for six days now, rainy weather and strong currents have muddled the process.

In light of the disaster, major film premieres, festivals and concerts have been canceled across the country, while television networks have called off comedy shows and dramas to report the situation. Musicians also have delayed album releases.

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The Jeonju Festival will not be rolling out the red carpet or installing photo op zones during the opening and closing ceremonies, and will be asking audiences to refrain from clapping. Organizers also have canceled the welcoming gala dinner.

This year's edition of the top art house/indie film event will show 181 works from 44 countries.  

It will open with the 3D omnibus Mad Sad Bad by top filmmakers Ryoo Seung-wan, Kim Tae-yong and Han Ji-seung. Online tickets for the opener were sold out just five hours after the box office opened earlier this month.