Korea and China will set up a 200 billion won ($189 million) fund next year to invest in coproductions of movies, TV programs and other cultural content.
According to a plan reported to President Park Geun-hye on Friday as part of a blueprint to boost the country’s creative content industry, the two countries will each contribute 100 billion won to the fund. Some of the money will be raised from private investors, with the government contributing the rest.
Officials at the Culture Ministry in Seoul hoped that it could serve as a tool to advance into the heavily guarded Chinese market.
“China is one of the largest markets for content products, including movies, but Korean firms have difficulty penetrating the market due to high entry barriers,” said Cho Hyun-jae, first vice minister of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
“Films that receive investments from the envisioned fund won’t be subject to the Chinese screen quota rules, as they will be regarded as locally produced movies. They won’t be subject to Korean quota rules, either, when they open here,” Cho explained.
Beijing allows only 34 foreign films a year to be screened in China.
The Korean government has been trying to assist local content makers to make inroads into the Chinese market, a prime target because of its current market value and growth potential.
Last year, it signed a preliminary pact with China on joint productions of films and TV programs. The deal will be formally inked later this year.
The pact is geared toward a similar purpose: coproducing films to be treated as local movies in China, thus allowing them to bypass its annual foreign film quota.
Cinemas are being built at an unprecedented rate in China.
According to Korean government data, a total of 893 movies were produced in China last year and watched by 470 million viewers on more than 14,000 big screens nationwide. The country added nearly 3,000 new screens last year, surpassing the total number of screens in Korea, which is 2,081.
One of the latest Korea-China joint productions, “A Wedding Invitation,” premiered in April last year in China and in June in Korea. The movie, which featured Chinese actors as its protagonists, was produced by the Korean firm CJ C&M, directed by Korean filmmaker Oh Ki-hwan and distributed by China’s national distribution firm China Film Group. It grossed 36 billion won, more than six times its production cost of 5.6 billion won.
By Lee Sun-young (firstname.lastname@example.org)