Known for high production values and reliable crews, South Korea is one of the few territories in the world where local films have taken over 50% of the total box-office share on average over the past 10 years. Recent local hits such as VFX-driven spectaculars Along With The Gods and historical drama The Great Battle show off the territory’s strengths in terms of technology, sets and crews. The country has co-operative film commissions and incentives to help bring in international productions for location shoots and post-production work.
As a peninsula, South Korea boasts several different kinds of beaches next to mountains and forests, gleaming modern cityscapes, stretches of rice paddies and a variety of sets to capture different periods in history.
In recent years, films including Black Panther, Avengers: Age Of Ultron and Colossal and Netflix series Sense8 have shot in South Korea. Indonesian feature Love Is Blind, directed by Rachmania Arunita, shot scenes in the harbour city of Busan, while French feature I Am Here, directed by Eric Lartigau, shot in Incheon International Airport and around Seoul.
Seoul Film Commission recently raised the maximum cap for its 30% cash rebates from $84,000 (krw100m) to $253,000 (krw300m) for international or internationally co-produced feature films, documentaries, TV programmes or web series.
According to the Korea Film Commissions & Industry Network, 35 international productions shot in the territory in 2018, up from 30 in 2017. It attributes this to the increase in documentaries and news shows about the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympic Winter Games.
South Korea has studios and post-production houses that often take on board international work and experienced crews that can accommodate a number of large productions at once. Outdoor film sets are available around the country, and although English is not spoken widely, filmmakers and co-ordinators that are educated internationally are on the rise. Depending on the size and needs of a production, projects can arrive with just a producer and director, or bring in the heads of main departments or more. Leading local service providers include Filmline, Zoa Films, Mr Romance, Live Motion Pictures, Mere Cinema and TPS. Local film productions have recently started adhering to the shorter 52-hour working week, so it is a good idea for filmmakers to familiarise themselves with local crews and filmmaking methods to maximise results. Mutual respect and understanding can yield results that money cannot buy.
The capital Seoul is a metropolis of about 10 million people with an efficient public transportation system and traffic that can take anywhere from 10 minutes in nearby downtown areas to more than an hour to get from one end of the city to the other. Taxi fares have recently increased but rides inside Seoul will rarely go over $45. A lot of productions shoot in the coastal city of Busan and Jeju Island, which is popular with tourists. Both are less than an hour’s flight from Seoul. The port city of Incheon and the smaller, more traditional city of Jeonju — about two hours from Seoul by high-speed train — have also become popular.
First people to contact
Sumin Seo, Korea Film Commissions & Industry Network firstname.lastname@example.org
Yoonjung Song, Korea Film Commissions & Industry Network email@example.com