Coproduire avec la Corée du Sud
Sébastien Lachaussée & Elisa Martin-Winkel

Sébastien Lachaussée & Elisa Martin-Winkel

Coproduction between France and South Korea

Both Korean cinematographic and audiovisual works have great visibility on the international market, whether in terms of their presence and awards in festivals:  « Parasite »  by Bong Joon-ho, Palme d’Or in 2019 that reached 1.9 million admissions in France,  « Decision To Leave    »   by Park Chan-Wook,  awarded best director at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival, « Hunt » by Lee Jung-Jae,  presented in Midnight Screening, and   »  Da-eum-so-hee », a thriller by July Jung, selected at La Semaine de la Critique… but also the success of their series such as Squid Game 4th in the ranking of the most consumed SVOD   programs in 2021 in France and that remained 20 weeks in the top 10 for non-English-speaking programs on Netflix.

South Korea developed a significant film and audiovisual production activity, and the market is rising: in 2019 according to the Korean Film Council (KOFIC), the Korean film market was estimated at 2.2 billion dollars.   Unfortunately, it has been very strongly impacted by the COVID 19 pandemic and the rise of SVOD, falling below one billion dollars in 2020 and 2021.

However, Korean works are protected and their visibility is ensured by screen quotas, both in theaters and on TV channels, at the date hereof, solely VOD platforms are not under such quotas.  

French and Korean markets and support systems are similar in many aspects and at the last Cannes Film Festival, the CNC and KOFIC co-organized a conference with Korean and French professionals of film industries, to compare their functioning and the development opportunities. 

About fundings, private investment is preponderant in Korea and must be highly considered in case of co-production with a Korean partner, while aid and subsidies come in support, unlike French fundings customs.  In this context, Korean investors are particularly interested in the rise of contents produced for video-on-demand platforms.

However, it remains interesting to review the aid systems available for a collaboration between Korean and French producers in order to co-produce cinematographic or audiovisual works.

  • Co-production agreement between South Korea and France

In 2006, France and South Korea entered a co-production agreement providing customary terms and under which a film benefit from the status of national work in both countries and thus of all aids dedicated to national works of both countries.

The proportions contributed by the Korean and French of a film shall be recorded in an agreement between the co-producers and shall be between 20 and 80 %per cent of the film’s final cost.

In principle, the technical and artistic contribution of the co-producer of each Party shall be made in the same proportion as its financial investment. In any case, it shall represent between twenty and eighty per cent of the overall technical and artistic contribution to the film.

CNC and KOFIC also announced the creation in the first half of 2023 of a France-Korea Film Academy including a training component for students and schools, a cultural component with the establishment of exchanges opportunities between professionals and a industry for Korean and French companies to create effective collaboration frameworks. A first assessment will be made during the Cannes Film festival.

  • The Korean Film Council

Iin the early 2000s South Korea set up the Korean  Film Council in order to organize the support and promotion of South Korean cinema both in the domestic market and abroad.

KOFIC offers support to local industries and organizes the international visibility of the Korean industry through KoBiz, a dedicated website, facilitating in particular the meeting with Korean producers, broadcasters and service providers.

For international productions, KOFIC also offers an international tax credit to encourage the location of filming in Korea.

This scheme is open to films, television series, and documentaries developed and produced by a foreign production company, in which the allocation of foreign capital in the production cost exceeds 80%, thus excluding the films produced under the coproduction agreement.

Two rates are available:

-20% for a shooting of more than 3 days in Korea and expenses between 50M KRW (approx. 35,600  euros) and 800 M. KRW (about 571,000 euros) 

-25% for a shootiing of more than 10 days in Korea and expenses greater than 800 M. KRW of qualifying expenses

Each project must be approved by acommittee, which will evaluate, among other things, the degree to which the work promotes tourism in Korea and the extent to which the work contributes to the Korean film industry.

  • Local Commissions

Many Korean cities or regions offer local or regional aid: Seoul, Cheongpung, Incheon, Gyeonggi, Busan …  in the form of supports open or dedicated to international co-productions.

In this respect, most regions offer aid for location scouting and production in the territory concerned, subject to a certain amount of expenditure in the locality and the involvement of Korean personnel and service providers.

For example, the Seoul Film Commission offers many mechanisms open to international co-productions and organizes in particular:

– Screenplay development support that provides round trip flight tickets for up to two people (economy class), one work space (hotel or residence) for 30 days per project, location tour, and a meeting space.

– Production cost support in the form of a reimbursement of 30% of the share of the production budget spent in Seoul up to a limit of KRW 300 million (approx. EUR 214,000), unless more than KRW 3 billion (approx.  €2.1 million) is spent in Seoul; more than 50% of the film is shot in Seoul; or distribution agreements in at least 5 countries are signed for the film.

– Location scouting support that provides round-trip airline tickets for up to two people (economy class) and accommodation costs for Seoul location scouting for up to KRW 900,000 ((approx. 640 euros) (up to KRW 150,000 approx. 107 euros) per day/per person), logistical services of a domestic location coordinator, and a rental car or money equivalent thereto for three (3) days.

The Seoul Film Commission notably supported « Okja » by Bong Joon Ho, co-produced by Korean and American producers, broadcasted by Netflix and screened at the Cannes Film Festival in 2017.    

  • Asian Cinema Fund

The Asian Cinema Fund, organized in partnership with the Busan Film Festival, provides script development and post-production support for Korean films.

Script Development Fund provides cash grant to Asian independent filmmakers to complete their first or second feature-length fiction film scripts that are in development.

However, no Korean film benefited from this fund since 2015 but the website of the Asian Cinema Fund indicates that they will try to launch a new program for Korean projects adjusting production environment in Korea in near future.

The post-production fund provides post-production services to independent Asian fiction feature film projects: sound mixing, English subtitles, etc.

To apply for this fund, the director of the film must be a Korean national, live and work in Korea and the film must contain Korean elements in its story, theme, character etc.

If the aid is awarded, post-production takes place in the post-production laboratories made available by the Asian Cinema Fund, with two 2 return tickets and 1 hotel room being allocated to the beneficiary to allow their presence.

Upon completion, the selected projects are required to make their world premieres at Busan International Film Festival.

This fund notably benefited both Danbi Yoon’s « Moving on” and Sunjoo Park’s « Way back home ».

We have seen that aids, although few in numbers, exist and that collaborations between France and Korea can be considered within the framework of film development and production, within the framework of the co-production agreement as well as outside.

In the context of such international collaborations, it is essential to ensure that the relationships between producers and their partners are effectively managed, whether for the development, production or distribution of works. In order to do so, the use of a specialized firm is strongly recommended to best meet the needs of producers in the establishment and negotiation of contracts.

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