Film head gets panned for lobbying

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Film head gets panned for lobbying

The head of a government-funded film council faced increasing pressure to step down yesterday after his influence-peddling in a funding scheme came to light.

Cho Hee-moon, chairman of the Korean Film Council that promotes the local film industry, was accused of calling up members of the council’s judging panel to pressure them to pick certain candidates for an independent movie-funding scheme while he was attending the Cannes Film Festival.

The lobbying, revealed by some of the jury members, instantly prompted calls for Cho’s resignation among movie industry figures. The latest such call came from Vice Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Shin Jae-min, who described Cho’s behavior as “very inappropriate.”

“I’d like it if he would show a responsible attitude for what he did,” Shin told reporters.

Cho has admitted to making the calls and expressed his regret.

The controversy was the latest to hit the scandal-smudged film council. It came under severe public criticism after Lee Chang-dong won the best screenplay at the Cannes festival on Sunday for his film “Poetry,” which the council had twice disqualified from its scenario funding contest last year. Rumors spread that the council held Lee’s background as former culture minister under the previous liberal Roh Moo-hyun government against him.

Cho, a conservative journalist-turned-official, took the post last year.

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