Korean Film Council Breaks New Ground at AFM

SEOUL -- In a way, the attendance of the Korean Film Council at this year's American Film Market was a new venture. With the high rent charged by Santa Monica hotels and few country pavilions as participants, AFM's sales-driven market never seemed fitting for a low-key government-supported film body.

This year, it was different. Aside from assisting Korean sales companies who are attending the market, the council, which is officially participating in the U.S. trade show for the first time, has paid to bring in Korean 3D converting studios and postproduction firms. Their ideal scenario is to show Korea's capacity as a production Mecca and promote a comprehensive location and co-production package for Hollywood studios.

For the council, which is expected to introduce a cash incentive of up to 3 billion won ($2.6 million) as early as next year for foreign production shooting in Korea, the goal is to expand the Korean film business abroad to more than just sales of Korean films.

But that doesn't discourage Korean sales companies to make an aggressive move for the biggest international film market. On the sales side, M-Line's psychological thriller Haunters, starring two Korean stars Kang Dong-won and Ko Soo, and Jang Jin's Quiz King will lead the company's lineup for European and Asian regions.

CJ Entertainment brings A Better Tomorrow, a remake of the Hong Kong action flick by John Woo, and The Man from Nowhere, starring a Korean heartthrob Won Bin, along with 3D promo screenings of Tarbosaurus, a 3D action adventure, and the theater version of Bolts and Blip by Peter Lepeniotis, the animator of Toy Story 2.

Seoul-based sales company Finecut brings Bedevilled and Kim Ji-woon's crime thriller I Saw the Devil and Showbox leads The Haunted House Project and A Barefoot Dream, the Korean candidate for this year's Oscar.

"The sales companies seem generally pleased," says Kim Ha-won from the Korean Film Council who organized a promotional event "Shoot in Korea!" at Le Merigot JW Mariott on Friday. "We've been hearing stories that there are more buyers and the market is vibrant."

VFX firms and 3D converting studios took up a major portion of Korean participants this year.

Stereo Pictures had pre-arranged meetings with Paramount and Sony Pictures before their departure. Other companies, including Mopac and Highway 3D, are targeting the North American market through the venue.

"We're in good hands at the moment," says Kim Ju-seong of Highway 3D. "We are currently discussing a plan to do a 3D film directed by Thomas Jane and a number of productions with China. Our main priority is to show the capacity of Korean VFX technology to let the studios know that we care capable of handling advanced postproduction."