The Korea Manhwa Contents Agency is meant to fill in what gaps exist in the domestic infrastructure of Korea comics production and distribution, while additionally helping promote Korea comics and Korea-born comics artists at home and abroad. After holding its inauguration ceremony in late July 2009, the Agency has planned to officially open in September, guided by their first Chief Director, veteran artist Lee Hyeon-se. Lee has been a writer and artist for more than thirty years, currently a professor of cartoon and animation at Sejong University, after serving as the president of the Korea Cartoonists Association. Lee Hyeon-se has also been announced as the next Chief Director of the Bucheon Cartoon Information Center.
The formation of the Korea Manhwa Contents Agency is important given the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism's recent merger and superbody creation (Korea Creative Content Agency) to oversee the creation of animation, videogames, online content, and brand merchandising. The new KCCA envelopes the previous Culture and Content Agency, Game Industry Agency and the Broadcasting Institute. Lee Jae-woong, former member of the National Assembly, has been named to head the agency, which will have an annual budget of USD $145 million.
In other news, the Korean Film Council (KOFIC) has made the decision to implement an ongoing distribution system for Korea-produced theatrical items in an effort to both promote the week but recovering film industry and silence ongoing internet piracy institutions. With international co-productions and global recognition indelibly burned onto the radar of the creative contents industry in South Korea [recent A.I. news: "Early 2009 Korea Animation & Comics News" (03/2009)], it should come as no surprise then that the following initiative is mean to spread influence of Korean film across multiple viewing territories, even if optimistically from the generation of a relatively small capital.
On one end, the Council plans to open up the Korea Open Movie Exchange (KOME), an online film distribution effort meant as a service to content distributors interested in streaming their films to the viewing public. A pilot service will reportedly go into effect in November, testing the parameters of KOME, operating as a sort of online rental service. At present, a pricing model has not been set, but the concept lies in the idea that browsers can download movies to their PC with a time limit expiration or viewing duration expiration.
The Korean DVD market is said to be ailing at the moment; as such, it is the hope of some that a nurturing of the legal downloading market will help meet target revenue benchmarks.
In other KOFIC news, the film promotion and information tracking organization has announced the official establishment of a redistribution fund for Korean box office sales. According to the Council, starting in the 2011-year, a slim 3% of all box office ticket sales specifically will be earmarked for redistribution to filmmakers and the promotion of the film industry (50/50). The Korea Film Council also has plans to raise $80 million by 2012 for the exclusive purpose of exporting Korean films to the global market, which will include both digital downloading and home video distribution avenues.
(Sources: The Bucheon, Korean Film Council, Korea Creative Contents Agency, and other)