|A logo of Busan International Film Festival / Yonhap|
By Kwak Yeon-soo
The Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) accepted director Huh Moon-yung's resignation with immediate effect and appointed long-serving program director Nam Dong-chul to serve as its interim director.
The BIFF's executive committee held a meeting Friday, announcing Nam will take over the reins of organizing and running this year's event following Huh's unexpected resignation.
"Nam will assume all the responsibilities of the festival director and help the festival to continue forward without disruption to this year's event," the BIFF said in a statement.
Huh expressed his intention to step down from the position on May 11. Although he did not provide a specific reason for his departure, sources close to the festival said it comes in response to the festival's decision to create the new post of a joint director.
On May 9, Asia's biggest film festival appointed Cho Jong-kook as the managing director of the festival, adding that he will oversee the operation of the organization, such as corporate operation, general affairs, administration and budgeting. He is known to be the close aide of festival chairman Lee Yong-kwan.
For weeks, the festival's board of directors had requested Huh to return to leadership. The chairman also asked Huh to come back, saying he would step down from the post after the festival ends in October. However, Huh refused to return to the committee citing "personal reasons."
The BIFF's board then pressured Cho to resign on Friday, saying, "We request Cho to share his position in this matter if he wishes for a successful event."
It also approved the formation of an innovation committee to set a new direction for the festival. Details about the innovation committee will be decided at later date after collecting opinions from film industry officials and civic groups.
Amid the internal feud, Huh was recently embroiled in a sexual misconduct allegation. According to a local news report, a former staff reported Huh to the Center for Gender Equality in Korean Film for sexual harassment. The employee accused him of allegedly using sexually inappropriate language. Huh denied the allegations.
Huh was named the BIFF festival director in 2021. Before then, he had been the program director of the Busan Cinema Center. Previously, he was a Korean cinema programmer at the BIFF for five years from 2002 after having built his journalism career at the movie magazine Cine21.
The 28th edition of BIFF is scheduled to take place from Oct. 4 to 13.