The man who changed the face of South Korean cinema
A pioneer, a visioner, an entrepreneur, an executive, an advisor, a mediator, a guardian, a father… Kim Dong-ho can be described with all these titles, and even more, in regard to his role in South Korean cinema.
Kim Dong-ho is a prominent and charismatic figure who has been involved in South Korea’s arts & culture scene since the 1960s by carrying out various duties at the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, and helped in the promotion of the new-generation Korean filmmakers to the world by acting as an executive in the film industry since the 1980s. He founded the Busan Film Festival in the 1990s, and is among the co-founders of NETPAC (Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema).
As this year marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Turkey and South Korea, a section titled “60 Years of Friendship” has been included in the 7th Malatya International Film Festival’s program. For all his great contributions to making South Korean cinema a world-renowned film industry, and also for founding one of the world’s most prestigious festivals, Busan Film Festival, we literally felt indebted to honor Kim Dong-ho with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Because he’s also among those who helped promote the Turkish cinema at the Busan Film Festival.
Born in Gangwon in 1937, Kim Dong-ho studied law at the Seoul National University. In 1961, he started to work at the Ministry of Culture and Tourism (formerly known as Ministry of Culture and Information), and undertook various duties in public relations and cultural change. In the 70s, he established cultural committees and drafted five-year cultural development plans. In the 80s, he pioneered in the establishment of important cultural institutions, such as The Independence Hall of Korea.
In 1988, Kim Dong-ho was appointed the chairperson of Korean Film Promotion Foundation, which would later be called KOFIC – Korean Film Council, and the Deputy Culture Minister in 1992. He chaired the Artistic Activities Ethics Committee from 1993 to 1995, and founded the reputable organization of South Korea, Busan Film Festival, in 1996.
He served as the director of the BIFF, which soon became one of the reputable film festivals of both Asian cinema and world cinema, until 2010. During this period, South Korean cinema and Asian cinema made remarkable breakthroughs, and raised today’s prominent directors. The festival’s New Currents section became famous for discovering new directors; such as South Korea’s Kim Ki-duk and Lee Chang-dong, and China’s Jia Zhangke. The BIFF has enabled the introduction of international arthouse films in Asian film market as well. Along with his charisma, Kim Dong-ho also gained hundreds of friends and fans nationwide and worldwide by hosting the film professionals from all over the world, and representing the South Korean cinema in the international arena. Despite being retired, he continues to make contributions to the film industry and acts as the Honorary president of the BIFF. Kim Dong-ho made a short film titled “Jury” in 2013. In May 2016, he was called to active duty to solve the crisis between the BIFF and the government. He mediated as the chairperson and helped the festival maintain its autonomy.
Valuing not only South Korean cinema, but also the development of Asian cinema and the cultural relations, Kim Dong-ho is also among the co-founders of NETPAC. With his diverse works, he’s become a sought-after jury member of the international festivals. He served as a jury member and a jury president at numerous festivals, including Cannes, Seattle, and Asia Pacific Awards. Besides receiving many honor awards, he was bestowed the “Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters” by the French government as well.