KOFIC Chairman Resigns After Only 14 Months

Took Office After Predecessor Also Stepped Down for Mismanagement

SEOUL -- Cho Hee-mun, the chairman of the Korea Film Council, was forced to resign from his post because of a violation of public organization management, a spokesman from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism announced Monday.

Cho, the head of the government film-supported film body, took his post 14 months ago when his predecessor Kang Han-sup was forced to step down after the council received the lowest grade in the government’s annual performance review of all Korean public agencies.

Since earlier this year, Cho’s resignation has been rumored in the industry, especially since he has been held accountable for pressuring juries who were selecting candidates for the council’s indie films production grants.

A professor-turned bureaucrat, Cho held a press conference after the Ministry’s decision Monday, and expressed that he never acted out of “self interest” as the council’s head, referring to the scandal over jury selection.

“This will be first case where someone appointed by the government is forced to resign,” he said.

“The incident occurred while trying to fulfill my duties that should have been done. So I’m not proud but I’m not ashamed either.”

While expressing his bitterness, 53-year-old Cho also added, “I tried to build a new image of the council while trying to overcome our biases and barriers, but I regret that I did not put my best effort in interacting with people in the industry and aggressively trying to explain what many people had misunderstood.”

Aside from his intervention in the council’s jury process, his lack of preparation and professionalism for the council’s audit and inspection by the National Assembly last month was also considered inadequate as the head of a public body. In the parliamentary audit for the council, he was asked to leave in the middle of the hearing after repeating the same introductory notes he had presented during the temporary session of the National Assembly in June.  

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter upon his inauguration last year, he said that his biggest mission was to work for the council to regain trust from the government and the industry.

“The credibility that we’re here to help the industry is crucial,” he said then. “We also need validation from the government that we’re successful in achieving those goals.” 

In his press conference Monday, he said the problem was not because people "could not trust" [the government], but they "would not trust" the government.  

Cho’s successor has not yet been discussed among the Culture Ministry. His contract with the council officially ends in May.