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Virus-hit film industry pleads for government-led rescue plans

All News 10:38 March 25, 2020

SEOUL, March 25 (Yonhap) -- The local film industry on Wednesday called on the government to come up with emergency plans to rescue the industry battered by the novel coronavirus.

"The South Korean film industry is sinking into the abyss of a dead-end crisis," industry officials said in a joint statement. "Many firms in the industry have given up hope of overcoming and have been bidding farewell to their employees."

The Producers Guild of Korea, the Directors Guild of Korea, the Korean Film Marketers Association and other related groups participated in the consolidated action.

A movie theater in Seoul on March 18, 2020. (Yonhap)

The South Korean film industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

While the country has reported more than 9,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since its first outbreak on Jan. 20, the number of moviegoers nose-dived 80 percent on-year to less than 30,000 per day this week.

The total number of moviegoers in February marked a 15-year low of 7.37 million due to fears of the coronavirus spread.

About 50 homegrown and foreign-made films have put off their release plans in February and March, and ongoing projects are facing indefinite postponement of their film schedules.

"A crisis in the film industry will bring about massive layouts and undermine the competitiveness of Korean movies," the statement said. "But the government has turned a blind eye to the film industry."

It proposed the government enforce various financial bailout packages, map out emergency rescue measures and include the film industry in the state-led special sector for employment support.

Earlier, the South Korean government designated four industrial sectors including tourism and hotel accommodation as special fields to help them maintain the employment of their current workers in the midst of a financial crunch stemming from the coronavirus epidemic.

Meanwhile, the Korean Film Council (KOFIC) has set up a task force to support the film industry struggling with the fallout of the coronavirus epidemic.

The team will assist movie theaters with disinfection and investigate the financial standing of troubled film studios or marketing firms, it said.


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