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Court suspends BIFF's new advisory committee members from coming into force

All News 15:47 April 11, 2016

BUSAN, April 11 (Yonhap) -- A local court on Monday ordered the executive committee of Asia's largest film festival to suspend appointments of its new advisory committee members amid its deepening feud with the sponsoring city.

The Busan District Court approved the injunction filed by the Busan Metropolitan Government against the executive committee of the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF), seeking suspension of 68 new members of the advisory committee from coming into force.

The new members were appointed by former executive director Lee Yong-kwan ahead of February's general meeting, increasing the number of organizing committee members from 87 to 155.

According to the festival's articles of association, the executive director can appoint advisory committee members without any other procedures. There are no regulations on how many people can be appointed to the position.

Still, the court said the articles should not be interpreted in a way that could fundamentally affect the composition of the organization.

"The appointments could essentially change the constituency of the group and distort the decision-making procedure with the new members' voting rights," it said.

BIFF's executive committee and Busan, which foots around half of the festival's annual budget, have been embroiled in a controversy since the government demanded the resignation of Lee, citing "problems" found in the city's recent audit of the festival organization.

The move prompted protests from the local film industry, which said the city's demand came because the executive director refused to accept Mayor Suh Byung-soo's request to cancel the screening of a controversial film.

The documentary "The Truth Shall Not Sink with Sewol," also known as "Diving Bell," criticized the central government's rescue efforts during the Sewol ferry disaster that claimed more than 300 lives in April 2014.

The feud deepened recently as Busan filed a complaint with prosecutors against Lee and other committee officials for allegedly committing accounting fraud by submitting documentation for sponsorship procurement activities.

South Korea's film industry has been warning that it could opt to boycott this year's festival if Busan keeps "denying" the festival's autonomy.


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