Korean SF Festival 2014

This entry is part 64 of 72 in the series SF in South Korea
Nice poster! E.T. is not screening: I think that icon is a reference to the festival’s efforts to getting younger kids into SF.

Those tracking Korean SF might be pleased to note that the Gwacheon International SF Film Festival I blogged about a while back--and which has continued over the years since–has expanded into a kind of Korean SF Festival, full stop. There’s a big film component, but there seems to be much more than screenings and an exhibit nowadays, which is great! It runs from the 26 September to 5 October this year, and is being held at the same spot as the year I attended: the Gwacheon Science Museum which is a very good venue, as long as you don’t mind the trek out to Gwacheon.

Here’s a link to the Festival’s website. For now, it’s Korean-only, though it appears an English version of the site is in the works.

Films are still a big part of the event, of course, and screenings this year include Cocoon, Contact, 2001: A Space Odyssey, District 9, Dark Matter, Under the Skin, a Korean-language documentary titled Mangwondong Satellite, and the wonderful Monsters, among others–and including several Korean short SF films, and one American short as well. (The full list of films is here, and Google Translate does a not bad job if you can’t read Korean.)

But there’s also a whole bunch of talks and forum discussions, exhibits, and even an awards ceremony on October 3rd, for what seems to be a new set of Korea-specific, SF-only awards (billed as the Korean equivalent of the Hugos) in four categories:

  • Dramatic Presentation (film/TV series)
  • Comics/Webtoons
  • Short stories
  • Novels

A couple of observations:

  1. There are no awards for magazines or fanzines or fan work, or translations from foreign languages to Korean.I imagine the latter omission can be explained on the basis of the idea that these awards are aimed at stimulating the production of original creative SF work within Korea, though translation is such a big part of the development of SF in Korea right now that I was still surprised. Then again, perhaps the eligibility for awards that SF translators enjoy elsewhere is a justification, as well.The lack of a magazine or fanzine award, though, I’m not so sure about. I suppose the line between fan publications and “pro” publications is less clear in Korea right now, and there are so few fanzines and magazines that categories for them might seem pointless… or maybe the organizers decided to focus the awards in categories where there would be more competition. I’m not sure, but it seems to me that encouraging publishers (both of magazines/webzines, and fanzines) would be nice too, eventually. This isn’t a bad start, though.
  2. There isn’t any information on the process of nominations, though there is information about eligibility rules. (Very approximately, it notes that work appearing online and offline between the beginning of 2013 and May 2014 was eligible this year.)
  3. This page includes a quick profile of the five members on the jury for the awards. Which is to say that, though the awards are compared to the Hugos on the award, it’s not actually fan-vote like the Hugos: it’s a juried prize, judged by a panel with five members.

Those are observations, note, not criticisms. I think it’s a great idea to have a Korea-specific SF award. I do wish that it had a snappier name, like the Seuin Awards in Japan, though! Anyway, you can see a list of the nominees here. While it’s nice to see Snowpiercer made the final list, it’s even more gratifying to see a couple of my friends made the list of finalists in the fiction categories!

Sadly, I won’t be in Korea this fall, so I won’t be able to drop by, though if you’re in Korea, you should check it out.

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