South Korean Filmmakers Demand Probe Into Censorship Allegations

Protesters gathered - rally against South Korean President Park Geun-hye -Getty- H 2016
Woohae Cho/Getty Images

Impeached President Park Geun-hye's former chief of staff and other government officials are accused of compiling a "blacklist" that includes such prominent filmmakers as 'Oldboy' director Park Chan-wook.

South Korean filmmakers took to the streets Monday morning demanding a probe into a government censorship scandal involving impeached South Korean President Park Geun-hye.

Park's former chief of staff Kim Ki-choon is accused of compiling a "blacklist" of artists who have expressed opposition to government policies or supported politicians of the opposition party. Rumors had long circulated in the industry about the existence of such a list, and local daily the Hankook Ilbo released a list of 9,473 artists, including such prominent filmmakers as Park Chan-wook (Oldboy) and Bong Joon Ho (Snowpiercer) as well as top actors Song Kang-ho and Kim Hye-soo.

Members of six major local filmmakers' organizations as well as six arts groups spanning thespians and artists took part in a rally in front of the Seoul office of Park Yong-soo, the special prosecutor who has been appointed to investigate an influence-peddling scandal involving the disgraced government.

Participating film groups include the Directors Guild of Korea, headed by Bong; the Association of Korean Independent Film & Video; the Federation of Korea Movie Workers' Union; the Producers Guild of Korea; the Korean Film Producers Association; and the Korean Screen Quota Action Alliance.

Korean culture minister Cho Yoon-sun earlier denied having been part of the list, but she is among nine politicians, including Kim and Busan Mayor Suh Byung-soo, named and shamed by the protestors.

Suh, who had served as chairman of the Busan International Film Festival, resigned from the post earlier this year following a controversy over the festival's artistic freedom. In 2014, Suh had requested that the festival cancel the premiere of The Truth Shall Not Sink With Sewol, a documentary about the much-politicized April 2014 ferry sinking that left hundreds dead. While the film screened as originally planned, then-director Lee Yong-kwan, deputy Jay Jeon and other key members of the fest were subsequently forced to resign, sparking protests by filmmakers from across the country.

The same year, a painting about the ferry accident satirizing the president, Sewol Owol by Hong Seong-dam, was excluded from the Gwangju Biennale art fair following pressure from the Gwangju metropolitan government. Lee Yong-woo, then-president of the Gwangju Biennale Foundation, stepped down.