The public highlight of the second Asia Forum was the evening talk on 6 July 2023 with Korean producer Dong Yeon Won. The CEO of “Realies Pictures” and producer of movies like “Along With the Gods” and “Masquerade” spoke in front of a packed audience at Goethe University’s Campus Westend about the “Competitiveness and Future Prospects” of Korean film and television products. This gave the opportunity to hear the perspective of someone who is directly involved in the Korean Wave as a cultural entrepreneur and takes a shaping and creative role in the development of cultural products. Success stories like “Parasite”, “Train to Busan” and “Squid Game” are products of changes and developments in the Korean film industry over the last decade.
Won named five main aspects which, according to him, raise the value of Korean films in the competitive market. First, the changes in distribution through the rise of OTT platforms like Netflix and Disney + allow Korean series and films to enter the Western and global market without having to pay high distribution fees. Therefore, producers working with these platforms can reach a wider audience. Second, the “value for money” in Korea is much higher, meaning that production costs often just a fifth of that of American productions. However, in recent years, the costs have increased in Korea as well. Third, Korean storytelling in dramas and movies often presents current social issues that viewers worldwide can resonate with. Therefore, Korean films appeal to a wide audience. Fourth, the Korean Visual Effects (VFX) technology is recognized worldwide and allows, through technological innovations, high quality production and relatively low costs. VFX has become an important tool for movies and dramas, through which images that cannot exist or are too expensive can be filmed. Lastly, Won mentioned the creation of an ecosystem for content creation, which involves theaters and OTT for distribution and elements like webnovels, webtoons and technology for the creation of content. In summary, he described a complex system that involves various elements and circumstances that benefit the competitiveness of Korean film. However, Won also implied that the motivation for him as a producer and cultural entrepreneur lay mainly in monetary aspects. That means, decisions are made based on their potential for success in a market that is highly competitive. Therefore, it may come to no surprise, that the only question he announced he would not answer, was that about his income. All in all, Won’s perspective on Korean film re-enforced that of academic findings, while allowing an insight into the commercial film industry.