At the American Film Market this week, around 100 representatives from 21 South Korean film companies were offering the distribution rights to over 100 Korean films, according to the L.A. Times calendarlive.
The Korean Government has also committed $500 million to the industry in a bid to reach its target of doubling South Korea’s share of the world movie market by 2011.
Officials are, according to the article, are comparing the current ‘renaissance’ in Korean cinema to that of Hollywood in the 1970s – and while any talking up of any industry by any government needs to be taken with more than a grain of salt, there does appear to be an increased demand for films (evidenced by a 29% increase in box office takings while cinemas in other countries are in decline) and a stylistic change in the films that are being produced.
Despite claims that the film quotas have ‘supported’ Korean cinema and culture for decades, the trend towards liberalising this sensitive sector are arguably having a positive effect on the industry. In 2001, a ban on Japanese cultural imports was lifted, and this year the film quota (stipulating how many days of Korean films must be screened) was halved under pressure from the U.S. Yet over the past few years, Korean films have boomed around Asia including Japan (dubbed the ‘Korean Wave’ or 韓流), and appear to be on the verge of making headway into the US market. Allowing the industry to be more open to external influences, global trends and competition has quite possibly played a role in steering filmmakers away from producing parochial stories to movies that engage young audiences at home and in the international market.