Friday, September 20, 2013

Government support helps growth of Korean film industry

By JONATHAN HICAP, Manila Bulletin
The Korean government’s support to its film industry has aided its growth by providing funds in various programs including research and development, international co-productions and technology.
(From left) KOFIC’s Jiyin Park, Filipino director Ato Agustin, CJ Entertainment’s Tae-sun Jung and Manila Bulletin Lifestyle Editor Isabel de Leon (Photo by Jonathan Hicap)

For this year, the government through the Korean Film Council (KOFIC) has allotted 21.12 billion won (about P846 million) for support programs to promote the Korean film industry, according to Jiyin Park, senior researcher at KOFIC’s Film Research and Development Department.
Park and Jung Tae-sun, general manager in Vietnam of Korean film outfit CJ Entertainment, tackled the film industry in Korea at the recent 2013 Hallyu Forum, organized by the Korean Cultural Center in the Philippines and held at the Manila Hotel. Manila Bulletin’s Lifestyle Editor Isabel de Leon served as reactor of the panel.
In her presentation, Park said KOFIC is helping the Korean film industry by supporting film production, film distribution, investment and funding, global expansion, digital cinema technology, improvement of working environment, film festivals and location incentives for foreign films being shot in South Korea.
KOFIC is an independent organization funded by the government and entrusted by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
The Korean film industry had experienced a slump in the last few years, posting negative growths in 2008 and 2010.
Jung said the film market in South Korea had downward growth until the mid-90s.
“In the late 90s, its actual development has begun with the improvement in Korean films, thanks to the emergence of multiplexes and the increasing of industrial capital investment. Korean film’s market share in Korea increased from 20 percent in the ’90s to 62 percent in 2006,” he said at the forum.
The industry made a complete turnaround in 2012 by setting records.
Park said Korea’s film industry “made the big leap in 2012 in overall indexes including the number of admissions, ticket sales of box office, and the rate of return on investment.”
It posted total admissions of 194.89 million, setting the highest attendance record in South Korea.
Korean films had total admissions of 114.61 million, or a market share of 58.8 percent, compared to foreign films shown in the country. Box office earnings reached $1.32 billion, an increase of 17 percent from 2011.
Topping the box office last year were the Korean movies “The Thieves” and “Masquerade.”
“The Thieves” posted total admissions of 12.98 million and earned 93.66 billion won, or about P3.71 billion. “Masquerade” had a total of 12.31 million in admissions and earned 88.89 billion won, or P3.52 billion.
In the first half of 2013, Park said, the Korean film industry continues its growth, posting total admissions of 98.5 million, “which is the highest record ever.”
Jung said the early 2000s were the dark days for the Korean film market with many Korean films failed at the box office and made negative returns on investment because of mass produced low-quality films, lack of risk management and intensified competition in the market.
This was addressed by developing and implementing competitive response including reducing risk and increasing competitive advantage of films.
CJ Entertainment, which was behind “Masquerade,” has expanded its business in the global market through direct distribution and production in Japan, US and China in the last five years, Jung said.
In the next five years, the company will mainly focus on markets in China and Southeast Asia, slow down its efforts in the US market and distribute films with less risks using the effects of Hallyu, or the Korean Wave, in Japan, he said.
KOFIC is helping the Korean film industry with various programs to make it competitive. For this year, among its projects are supporting research and development of 50 Korean films, and supporting production of 30 to 40 independent films.
It also helps in the online and offline distribution of diverse films including supporting cinema and cinematheque operations, art house theaters and cinemas for independent films.
The council also assists in organizing film investment funds, export of Korean films and international co-productions, Park said.
To help aspiring filmmakers, the KOFIC operates the Korean Academy of Film Arts (KAFA).
In support of Korean films’ global status, KOFIC also assists in international film festivals in Korea and abroad.
Jung said with the popularity of the Korean Wave in the Philippines, “I believe that the day we could easily reach Korean films here in the Philippines is not far away.”
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