Striking a Balance Between Art and Commerce Is Powering Global Success of Korean Content – Busan Panel

Achieving a balance between artistic creativity and commercial appeal has been a key component of the success of the Korean film and TV industries, said senior executives at the Asin Contents & Film Market, held this week as part of the Busan International Film Festival.

Leading U.S. producer Ted Hope said that “Being audience focused but ambitiously creating authored work,” is significant and that Korean filmmakers are able to tap into a wide range of emotions.

Yang Yoomin, a Korean producer who has worked with hit filmmaker Yeon Sang-ho, explained why such a discussion was important. She gave the examples of the Hong Kong and Japanese film industries which have both at times enjoyed international success, but which have recently been eclipsed. Hope said that Hong Kong films and Japanese animation are at opposite ends of the spectrum stretching from commerce and art films, but said that Korean stories demonstrate a balance between authorship and audience-focused approaches.

Business goals from global corporations, however, have created a culture of content abundance that has driven risk averse decisions and mediocrity, said David Flynn, content head at WIIP, a U.S.-based studio which was last year sold by talent agency CAA to Korea’s JTBC. He said that in such a climate a need for quality is stronger than ever. “To create sustainability is to create quality. That means working with great partners and making content for the right reasons.”

Flynn said that the US TV landscape had become more aggressive and less connected with the audience. But he praised the sophisticated script development system and urged creators to navigate the best parts of the American system through trusted contacts.

Max Michael, head of Asian business development at United Talent Agency, said that streaming platforms had helped the Korean industry’s leap to the global stage.

But he balanced that with a need to stay local. “Don’t try to please the world. Narrowly choose your audience and the best stories will rise to the top,” he said.

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