Busan Film Festival Urges Former Director to Cooperate With Sexual Harassment Probe

An investigation into allegations of sexual harassment by a former director of the Busan International Film Festival has not reached a conclusion, several months after it began, the festival said on Tuesday.

The festival has said that it is urging former director Huh Moonyoung to cooperate with an external investigator.

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The festival held its annual lineup presentation on Tuesday in an online format, announcing the bulk of its film selections, juries, anticipated guests, honorary prize-winners and technical arrangements such as screening venues and ticketing.

As part of the presentation, current management again apologized for several months of turmoil, which it admitted had scared off sponsors and caused its operating budget to shrink.

The turmoil began in May when the festival appointed Cho Jongkook, a close friend of chairman Lee Yong-kwan, to a power-sharing position with festival director Huh Moonyoung. That move was opposed by certain Korean industry guilds, which threatened to boycott the festival in support of Huh. Nevertheless, Huh tendered his resignation.

Just days later, local media began reporting that a female member of the festival staff had made sexual harassment allegations against Huh. Via Korean media, Huh has denied the allegations. He did not respond to Variety‘s enquiries at the time.

Lee has also since tendered his resignation, in order to take responsibility for the chaos, and is expected to depart after this year’s festival (Oct 4-13) is completed.

Cho was dismissed by the festival s board of directors in late June. Korean media reports Cho as complaining that there were no irregularities in his appointment, nor did it have grounds for his dismissal.

On Tuesday, the festival issued a statement (in Korean and English) reporting again that it had referred the sexual assault accusations against Huh to an external body for investigation. It explained that Huh has not responded to the external body.

“[The] Busan Counseling Center Against Sexual Violence Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault in the Busan Culture and Art Industry Counseling Center [has been set] as the external investigation team to investigate the case to guarantee objectivity and fairness (June 9).

“As the accused has refused to consent to the investigation, the center has conducted an investigation [based only] on the victim and testifier. At the board of director meeting held on Aug. 31, the Busan International Film Festival board of directors resolved to send an official letter to former festival director, Huh Moonyung, advising him to respond to the investigation responsibly.

“The film festival plans to conduct a comprehensive investigation and provide effective preventative education.

“We sincerely apologize for any controversy caused by the incident. The Busan International Film Festival will do its best to prevent recurrences of such incidents.”

Since the festival s Tuesday statement, Variety has again reached out to Huh for comment. He has not responded.

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