[EDITORIALS]Adjust Movie Rating Board

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[EDITORIALS]Adjust Movie Rating Board

The Constitutional Court ruled Thursday that Article 21, Section 4 of the Motion Picture Industry Promotion Act, which allows the Korea Media Rating Board to suspend rating a movie, is unconstitutional on the grounds that the suspension amounts to censorship. In addition, the court viewed the board as a de facto administrative agency rather than a private body. Now, a revision of the motion picture act appears inevitable. In order to abide by the court's decision, the law should be revised so as to make the board completely private and permit operation of movie theaters for adults only which will show those movies that fail to obtain a rating.

The fact that the court viewed the board an administrative agency attracts particular attention. The court ruled in the past that the Performance Ethics Committee and the Korea Performing Arts Promotion Association were administrative agencies and accused them of censorship. The Media Rating Board came into being as a result of that ruling and yet the court found even that board an administrative agency that exercises censorship. At this rate, it appears highly likely the court will rule the rating itself unconstitutional if someone files a lawsuit to that end.

Movies are rated four different grades in Korea: Suitable for all audience, over 12, over 15 and over 18 years of age. But if the rating board finds the movies in violation of democratic principles, customs and traditions or the national interest, among other things, it could suspend rating them as long as three months. Once a decision is made to delay a rating, the producers would then modify their movies and eventually obtain an approval to distribute those movies.

While this was an improvement on the practice of the Performance Ethics Committee whose members unilaterally slashed certain movie parts themselves, it apparently failed to satisfy the Constitutional Court's desire to allow a "complete freedom of expression."

The only way to avoid further accusations of being unconstitutional would be for the Media Rating Board to become completely private. There should also be legal provisions allowing separate theaters for showing those movies that failed to obtain a rating from the board.
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