Film History

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A Short History of Korean Film
1903-1945: Korea Under Japanese Rule
1903 -- First public screening of a film in Korea.
1910 -- Korea is formally annexed by Japan.
1919 -- First film, a kinodrama (play with motion picture inserts) named Uirijeok Gutu.
1923 -- First silent film, Plighted Love Under the Moon directed by Yun Baek-nam.
1926 -- Arirang by Na Un-Kyu.
1935 -- First sound film, Ch'unhyang-jon directed by
Lee Myung-woo.
1937 -- Japan invades China; the Korean film industry is
converted into a propaganda machine.

1945 -- Japan surrenders to the Allied Forces; Korea regains independence, but is soon divided in two.
1949 -- Korea's first color film, The Women's Diary by Hong Sung-gi. 1950 -- War starts on the Korean Peninsula.
1953 -- Cease-fire agreement signed at P'anmunjom.

1955-1969: A Golden Age for Korean Cinema

1960 -- The Housemaid, directed by
Kim Ki-young.
1961 -- Obaltan, (pictured left) directed by
Yu Hyun-mok.
1961 -- The Houseguest and My Mother,
directed by Shin Sang-ok.

The 1970s
1973 -- Establishment of Korean Motion Picture Promotion Corporation (KMPPC). 1974 -- Establishment of Korean Film Archive.
1979 -- Military dictator Park Chung-Hee is assassinated.


1980 -- Kwangju Massacre.
1981 -- Mandala, directed by Im Kwon-taek.
1988 -- Hollywood studios granted direct distribution
rights in Korea.

1992 -- Marriage Story is the first film produced by
a member of the chaebol.
1993 -- Democratically-elected government led by
Kim Young-sam succeeds military
1993 -- Sopyonje, directed by Im Kwon-taek.
1997 -- Opening of Seoul Cinema Complex in
1999 -- Shiri, directed by Kang Jae-Gyu,
becomes best-selling film ever.

History of the Korean screen quota
-Introduced in 1966 but took effect in 1993

-In 1993 the Korean government allowed Hollywood films to be distributed directly by meeting most of the demands of US-Korean film negotiations that had taken place in 1985 and 1988.

-Given no governmental support, the market share of Korean films amounted to only 15% at that time.

-Korean movie theaters were compelled to run their own movies 146 days a year before 1993 but in reality many theaters were only running Korean films 6 days a year while Hollywood films were run the rest of the year.

-After 1993 the "Screen Quota Watchers" and the screen quota system keep track of the days that Korean films are played and enforce the laws that are in effect.

The Legal System

-Movie promotion law required a screen to run Korean films 40% of the time or 146 days a year but after a couple of regulations that lessened the quotas effect the number has been reduced to 106 days a year or 29.4%.

Pressure from the US and the Screen Quota Conflict

-When the screen quota was revived, there was consistent pressure from the US to get rid of the screen quota.

-In 1998 the US tried to negotiate the signing of the BIT or Bilateral Investment Treaty. Washington demand the reduction of the screen quota, claiming that the BIT did not allow one country to enforce the use of a countries own goods and services.

-At first Korea met the US demands but after protest by the Korean film community and support by Korean civic groups as well as the public, the Korean government withdrew its decision to cut the screen quota.

-The quota has been hard to keep as it faces another crisis as the economy of Korea is struggling and some economic officials feel that going back to the BIT and trading with the US on a large scale.

Censorship in Korean cinema.
In 1995 the formal government censorship of films was ruled unconstitutional. The Media Ratings Board was created in order to classify films, videogames and other media. Films are classified according to what age they are deemed appropriate for. There is a general rating for all audiences as well as ratings for ages 12+, 15+, and 18+. This means...
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