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Culture minister concedes to less movie protection

June 13,2004
The Ministry of Culture and Tourism has said that it will lower the number of Korean movies that theaters here are required to screen under its screen quota to protect domestic filmmakers. The ministry had been one of the few champions of the current quotas inside the government, and its turnabout will probably cause great distress in the local industry.
Korean theaters are currently required to run Korean movies on at least 146 days per movie screen. Fines of 5 million won ($4,000) can be imposed on violators. The rule applies to every screen in a multiple-screen theater.
Lee Chang-dong, the minister of culture, told the industry at a meeting Friday night, “It is a time to review and reduce the screen quota for the advance of Korea’s film industry.”
Mr. Lee also said if the quota were reduced and the nation’s film industry harmed, the quotas could be increased.
Mr. Lee, a movie director-turned-minister, faced strong pressure from the Finance Ministry and Foreign Ministry to concede. The United States has refused to conclude a bilateral investment treaty with Korea unless the quota is abolished or reduced significantly.
A committee formed by the movie industry here to champion the current quota said it would have a statement on the matter Wednesday. Yang Gi-hwan, a senior member of the commission, said, “The Culture Ministry did not give a plausible explanation on why the quota should be reduced. In coalition with 44 cultural civic groups, we will fight against the ministry.”


by Lee Young-ki


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