| (EDITOR'S NOTE: My friend and Bug contributor Johannes Schonherr, currently based in Beppu, Japan, e-mailed me the letter|
below and requested that it be put it up on this site. The above picture of the author, center left, was taken at last year's Puchon
Int'l Fantastic Film Festival by Jouni Hokkanen, Finnish director of "Pyongyang Robogirl." The older, pointing gentleman on the
right is Puch'on Mayor Hong Gun-pyo. Jouni also took a picture of Johannes smiling but we all felt that the picture you see here
better expresses the present mood of just about everyone.)
Mayor Hong Gun-pyo,
Puchon a "Dream City" as the Web site of your city claims? Well, it's a pretty ugly town of numbered concrete housing projects on the margins of Seoul. Why would a foreigner ever want to take the train out there from Seoul, let alone take a plane to visit the city from
Until recently, there actually was a very good reason to go to Puchon - the Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival. It was the
most vibrant, interesting and hospital film festival in all of East Asia - not only Korea. It was an event of high international standing and, despite the ugliness of the city as such, visitors to the festival felt very warmly welcomed there. The film program was excellent, the
people were great - for many visitors it was one of the best festivals in the world.
I myself have been to PiFan 3 times and always loved it there. The first 2 times I traveled all the way from Germany to attend the
festival, now I live a little bit closer, in Japan.
I've met many influencial film people in Puchon who attended the festival on a regular basis, traveled there from all corners of the
world, from Europe, America, Australia or Asia and who considered the festival a very important event to present their movies, to get in contact with the Korean film industry and to write about films. If you put "PiFan" into Google, you will see how much has been written about the festival worldwide - any city in the world should be very proud having such a good international reputation as host of a film
festival. Puchon should be especially proud: having achieved that status of high acclaim among the worldwide film community (and,
by extension, many more people with an interest in the arts or in your country in general) without easy access to palm-tree-lined
beaches and urban life. Puchon managed to become one of the top cities to visit for anyone related to film although the town has
nothing fancy to offer - a mass of concrete blocks on the outskirts of Seoul nobody would ever want to visit achieved the impossible: it became a major culture town on a global scale.
Unfortunately, I have to use the past tense when I praise the festival in this mail. I received the news that you, in your position as
mayor of Puchon and chairman of the festival decided to destroy the festival. Why?
You fired the team that built up the festival and which was responsible for the very success of the festival that now reflects on the city so well. It took all of the festival programmers and the festival director years of hard work to get the festival where it was last summer - at the peak of its success with an unprecendented number of films shown, with an unprecedented number of international guests.
You know yourself that by firing the people who created the festival's succcess, you will achieve only one thing: disgust at your
politics and the cancellation of all plans to visit PiFan again.
Was that what you wanted to achieve? If so, well done! You will not see me in your town again.
Who would want to visit Puchon now anyway, with PiFan gone?????
If you want to be a good mayor of the town, you should do the tax-paying folks of Puchon who had been so welcoming to all festival
guests one favor now: take down the English-language Web site of your town. Nobody is going to read it anymore. Don't waste the
money of your townfolks!
No, I don't send you any regards.