FASSA SAR WRITES — Korean filmmakers and actors put pressure on President Park Geun-hye to release the names of 9,473 film artists – including film-makers, actors and studio executives – that have allegedly been put on a secret list that would deny them government financial and logistical support for their films.

On October 12, Korean newspaper Hankook Ilbo, the sister paper to Korean Times, published a 100 page transcript, containing conversations that appear to be the Arts Council of Korea chairman saying “There is a list [of artists] that should be denied support.” According to Hankook Ilbo, the President’s office sent the blacklist to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism on May.

Top Korean actors and leading filmmakers that were on this blacklist includes famous Korean director,Park Chan-wook, whose film “The Handmaiden” opens this week in the U.S. Leading actors allegedly blacklisted are Song Kang-ho (“The Age of Shadows”), Moon So-ri (“Handmaiden”) and Jung Woo-sung (“Asura: The City of Madness”).

The ‘blacklist’ names artists who publically protested the government’s handling of the 2014 Sewol ferry disaster. Last year in April, a ferry sank off the country’s south coast, resulting in over 300 people counted missing or dead, 250 of them minors. Citizens stood up against the Korean Government after finding out the captain and the company illegally and dangerously ignored the ship’s maximum passenger capacity. In addition, citizen fury reignited when, as the  Los Angeles Times worded it, “instead of working to evacuate the sinking ferry, the captain and crew fled on the first rescue ship that came to the scene, and some crewmembers sipped beer while waiting to be rescued.”

Following the disaster, over a thousand top artists and celebrities signed a group declaration at Busan International Film Festival and supported the controversial film, “The Truth Shall Not Sink With Sewol” directed by Ahn Hae-ryong.

In response, members of the art community – including many of those who are on the blacklist – continue to speak out about the secret government blacklist. In the middle of Gwanghwamun Square Seoul, protest members recited a declaration saying that blacklist is a way to control artists during dictatorships. “ “The government has controlled and managed artists based on the blacklist,” the statement said. “The government has discriminated against artists using the blacklist when it allocates subsidies and state events”. Protesters say they will continue to rally through November, when it will host a ceremony specifically for those who have been blacklisted.