|An official poster for the 25th edition of the Bucheon International Comics Festival (BICOF) to be held in Bucheon, Gyeonggi Province, from Sept. 30 to Oct. 3 / Courtesy of Korea Manhwa Contents Agency|
By Park Han-sol
The 25th edition of the Bucheon International Comics Festival (BICOF) will return to its pre-pandemic scale this week to quench the thirst of comic book and webtoon enthusiasts from across the country.
Hosted by the Korea Manhwa Contents Agency (KOMACON), the festival will run from Sept. 30 to Oct. 3, mainly spanning two venues: the Korea Manhwa Museum and the adjacent Korea Manhwa Business Center in Bucheon, Gyeonggi Province.
Under the theme of "Another Universe," the annual event is set to be filled with artist talks, exhibitions, meet-and-greets, a comics market and a cosplay parade.
Its musical- and cosplay-themed opening ceremony on Sept. 30 in the museum's lobby will coincide with the presentation of the 2022 Bucheon Comics Awards.
A total of seven big and small exhibitions are scheduled to unfold in the two main venues, including a showcase of the three Bucheon Comics Awards-winning works, K-toon NFT Art Exhibition and "Philippe Geluck's Le Cat" featuring the iconic feline character from the bestselling Franco-Belgian comic series.
The three winners of this year's comics prize, each of which has been recognized for its portrayal of the so-called "another universe" with a unique twist, are: Gu A-jin's occult thriller "Mirae's Antique Shop," Lee Myeong-jae's "We are the Zombies" and French graphic novel "The Bomb" that is set in World War II and addresses the horrors of atomic warfare.
Also sprinkled throughout the four-day festival is a series of conferences, talks and lectures led by cartoonists, webtoon artists and industry personnel.
Director Oh Ki-hwan, who is behind the coming-of-age comedy film "Fashion King" and rom-com series "How to be Thirty," both of which are based on webtoons, and director Kim Soo-jung, who has queer web novel-inspired romance series "Semantic Error" under her belt, will discuss the expanding scope of webtoons that have become go-to literary sources for screen adaptations in recent years.
Other notable guests for the event include Nicolas Piccato, director of the Lyon Comics Festival in France, Joelle Epee Mandengue, founder and director of the International Comics Festival of Congo called the Bilili BD Festival, and Yaongyi, webtoon artist behind the popular series "True Beauty."
Along with the BICOF runs the Gyeonggi International Cosplay Festival (GICOF). Its 6th edition will kick off on Oct. 2 at the Korea Manhwa Museum with a concert featuring well-known songs from the soundtracks of webtoons and animations, followed by the International Cosplay Championship finale the next day with competitors from 15 countries.
"This year's event introduces the theme of 'Another Universe' as a festive foundation to bring together varied perspectives and values held by those within the comics industry as they have been disconnected by the pandemic ― (which could be described as) one version of 'another universe' ― but, at the same time, have been reconnected in an entirely new way," BICOF director Lee Geun-wook said in a statement.