N. Korea official: ‘We don’t care’ about US travel ban

Macquarie mulls legal action against documentary

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Published : 2012-08-20 14:01
Updated : 2012-08-20 18:15

A signboard installed in front of the headquarters building of Macquarie Group Korea in Sogong-dong, central Seoul, shows the names and locations of the financial groups’ units. (Park Hae-mook/The Korea Herald)

Macquarie Korea Asset Management Co. said on Monday it was considering legal action against the screening of a documentary film on alleged business favors the Australian fund operator received through President Lee Myung-bak’s nephew.

The company runs Macquarie Korea Infrastructure Fund, which has made highly profitable investments in infrastructure projects here including the Umyeonsan Tunnel in southern Seoul and the Seoul Subway Line 9.

The movie “Mac Korea” features its producer and director Kim Hyung-ryul as he digs into the suspicions surrounding Macquarie, and Seoul City councilor Kang Hee-yong of the opposition Democratic United Party who exposed the favorable conditions the city government offered to Macquarie for the tunnel project.

The film, currently about 70 percent complete, is scheduled for release around mid-October.

After viewing the movie trailer, Macquarie recently informed Kim that it was considering filing for an injunction to ban the film’s screening.

“We spoke with the film producer several times and provided detailed explanations on our investment in Korea,” said Park Jin-wook, Macquarie’s managing director.

“But the preview implied serious distortions in the content regarding Macquarie’s connections with the incumbent government. If the movie turns out to match the level of the trailer, we will not rule out filing for an injunction.”

The trailer shows Kim asking President Lee’s elder brother and former six-term legislator Lee Sang-deuk about the relationship between his son Ji-hyung and Macquarie, as well as Song Kyung-soon, former supervisory director of MKIF, testifying during a parliamentary audit that President Lee used to hold weekly seminars at his office in Washington in the late 1990s.

Kim said he will get full legal review to keep his movie from being banned.

“We are producing it in a way that does not meet the legal conditions for prohibition. Since President Lee Myung-bak is involved, we will get a thorough legal review and if there is any problematic part, we won’t release it,” Kim said.

“The film will provide only facts so that the viewers can make their own judgments.”

Should the court grant an injunction, the movie will be made available on the Internet, Kim said.

“If libel is an issue, we could blur faces, but if they take issue with the content, which we want people to know, it could be circulated through the Internet since the injunction will be valid only against screening in theaters,” he said.

Production will be completed as early as late August and no later than mid-September, Kim said.

The director stressed that the purpose of the movie was to shed light on the downsides of private-invested infrastructure projects from an economic perspective, not a political one.

“Macquarie’s businesses here are not illegal, but a lot of problems occurred through Macquarie and we want to look into the drawbacks of private-invested projects,” he said.

President Lee’s nephew Lee Ji-hyung headed Macquarie IMM, a joint venture of Macquarie and private equity fund IMM, from 2002.

Chung Wan-sook, Macquarie’s media relations official, emphasized that her company had nothing to do with the President’s nephew. Macquarie IMM was sold to Goldman Sachs in 2007 and renamed Goldman Sachs Asset Management.

The Seoul City government revised the contract terms in favor of MKIF on the operation of the Mount Woomyeon Tunnel in March 2005, the same month Song took office as board director of MKIF. President Lee was Seoul mayor between 2002 and 2006.

By Kim So-hyun and Lee Woo-young

<관련 한글 기사>

개봉도 전에 소송? 논란 폭발 '맥코리아'

'도가니' '부러진 화살' '두 개의 문' 등 사회적 논란이 된 사건을 재조명하는 영화가 최근 잇따라 성공하면서 호주자본인 맥쿼리 의 특혜 의혹을 다루는 영화 '맥코리아'가 관심을 끌고 있다.

특히 맥쿼리 측은 영화 예고편에 소송 가능성까지 내비치는 등 민감하게 반응하고 있다.

20일 '맥코리아' 제작사인 DK미디어에 따르면 이 영화는 민간 금융자본의 국가기반시설 투자에서 드러난 문제점을 지하철 9호선, 우면산 터널 투자사례를 중심으로 풀어낸 시사 다큐멘터리다. 둘 다 맥쿼리자산운용이 투자한 사업이다.

연출자인 김형렬 감독은 "올해 2월 맥쿼리가 투자한 전국도로 지도를 우연히 보고 국내 교통 인프라를 외국투자 기업이 갖고 있다는 사실에 심각성을 느꼈다"고 영화를 제작하게 된 계기를 설명했다.

그는 계약 당시 문제가 된 조건들을 검증하고 이 과정에서 제기된 특혜 의혹에 대한 해명을 듣고자 당사자들을 찾아 나섰다.

의혹을 쫓는 과정에서 얻어낸 취재 내용은 물론 문전박대를 당하거나 충돌이 발생한 장면까지 고스란히 영화에 기록됐다.

김 감독은 "맥쿼리도, 지하철 9호선도 대부분 카메라를 들고 가면 퇴짜를 놓고 응대조차 안 할 때가 많았다"며 "맥쿼리 본사에서는 로비에서부터 거부당해 화물용 엘리베이터를 타고 몰래 올라가 겨우 명함 인사만 나눈 적도 있다"고 말했다.

그는 "지하철 9호선의 실시협약을 했던 분들도 찾아갔지만 매일 '휴가중' 아니면 '부재중'이어서 아직 못 만나고 있다"며 답답함을 내비치기도 했다.

상황이 이렇다 보니 단 몇 분짜리 촬영을 위해 며칠을 기다려야 하는 일이 다반 사였다.

그는 국민의 세금이 투입되는 국가기반시설에 민간 금융자본이 투자자로 참여한 이상 잡음은 불가피하다고 주장한다.

그는 "단기적으로 보면 민자 기반시설은 사실상 민영화와 같지만 사람들은 이를 민영화처럼 예민하게 생각하지 않는다"고 지적했다.

경제정의실천시민연합, 투기자본감시센터, 참여연대 등 시민단체들은 현재 1만명을 목표로 '맥코리아' 지지 서명을 받고 있으며 현재 6천여명이 참여했다.

지지 서명 명단은 영화 스크롤 자막을 통해 공개될 예정이다.

김 감독은 "이 영화는 거대자본과 싸우는 돈키호테 이야기"라며 "소송의 위험도 있지만 최근 다큐멘터리에 대한 인식이 높아지고 있어 힘을 얻고 있다"고 말했다.