By Kim Tae-jong
The newly-elected chairwoman of the Korean Film Council (KOFIC) believes that Korean cinema has enjoyed an unprecedented boom over the past few years but the industry has also shown many systematic problems that it should tackle for a better take-off.
Taking her new position in the government organization, An Cheong-sook plans to focus on facilitating communication among the local film industry and help the industry grow.
"Local films largely rely on their theatrical success, but now people from the industry should also find other stable ways to secure revenue and profits", An said Monday during an interview with The Korea Times. "We'll work hard to find a solution through close cooperation".
The chairwoman said she believes that communication is key to regulating the different needs and demands of the many sectors involved in the film industry, such as theater owners, filmmakers, production companies and investors.
The KOFIC was established in 1973 to improve the quality of local films and promote the film industry, but in 1999 it changed its name to its current one and expanded its roles to actively support the film industry in a globalized environment.
An and other commissioners who were also newly appointed as the KOFIC's third board members will establish related film policies and provide research data on marketing and sales.
An worked as a film reporter for the daily Hankyoreh and chief editor for Cine21 magazine prior to becoming the KOFIC's chairwoman. She said she plans to put more emphasis on the importance of cultural diversity, which can be easily neglected under commercialism. So she will also strengthen previous policies to help low budget and art films meet their audiences by opening theaters for them and providing subsidiaries to those who make, import or show them.
"Without maintaining cultural diversity in films, you can't understand the whole picture. It's like without literature, there is no literature class, and you can never learn about it", An said.
She also said that the organization will continue working on projects that promote more interactive cultural exchanges with Asian countries through films.
An said there is too much emphasis on the commercial side of exporting films. "But we should also consider film as a medium for sharing our culture with movie watchers", she said. "Asian people don't know much about other cultures in the continent, which is why we have to get to know one another better by working together".
She pointed out that the main reason why Hollywood movies are criticized is because of their one-way communication.
The KOFIC has established an academy for people from neighboring countries to teach them about filmmaking. This year, it launched a project with the Pusan International Film Festival (PIFF) and Dongseo University to train talented would-be filmmakers from Asian countries. The project, called the Asian Film Academy, will be completed during the 10th anniversary of PIFF.