All films released in Korean theaters are rated into the five categories. Among the categories, “Restricted Screening” became a hot potato in society. Restricted screening is a term used since 2002 and hails from Item 24 of Clause 2 of the Promotion of Motion Pictures Industry Act. It limits film releases and advertisements to designated theaters only. To put it plainly, restricted screening films should be shown only in “Adult-only” theaters or “Exclusive” theaters. When rating a film, authorities consider several aspects: whether it renounces democratic order and promotes antisocial action, contains violence, is sexually suggestive, if there is a risk of copycat crime, and whether it invades universal values of human rights. Recently, Director Kim Kiduk of the film Moebius, which was a hit with critics at the Canne Film Festival, was restricted in Korea due to its depiction of improper sexual relations. As a result, authorities held a preview of the film and people voted on whether to show it to the general public; 87% of voters wanted it released it to the public. Which way is proper? The Sookmyung Times asked Sookmyung Women’s University students whether it is right to enforce restricted screening.
- Debate Topic -
Government Should Enforce Restricted Screening
Hong Youngeun /
Department of TESL ’13
In the Korean film industry, there’s great concern for restricted screening. This long controversy is deepened by the film I Saw the Devil in 2010 directed by Kim Kiduk who also directed the new film, Moebius. Although Director Kim appealed the deletion of certain scenes, the appeal was denied. Undauntedly, he held a private viewing of the film, targeting reporters and other relevant parties. What made people strongly oppose his film and rate it restricted screening?
First of all, according to the Korea Media Rating Board, restricted screening is considered controversial not only for its rating designation, but also due to the lack of sufficient exclusive theaters able to show the restricted screening films. Opponents of restricted screening assert that it should be abolished because there is virtually no way to view a restricted film legitimately. However, to protect social ethics and maintain order in society, restricted screening should be maintained.
Enforcing restricted screening for these issues is a must. Recently, restricted film, Moebius contained sexual content depicting relations between linear family members. However, if content filled with ethically forbidden behavior is allowed to be shown, people will gradually accept the behavior. People will look for more provocative, blatant content. Also, it will encourage copycat crimes and cause serious social problems.
Moreover, the film industry argues that restricted screening should not be enforced because it invades the freedom of expression and ignores a director’s creative pain during creation of the film. However, freedom of expression is not an absolute liberty. Article 37 of the Constitution states that the “Freedoms and rights of citizens may be restricted by law when deemed necessary for national security to maintain law and order or public welfare.” It is this Article that gives restricted screening its legal stand.
Restricted screening is utilized to keep balanced social values. Instead of abolishing the rating, people need to comprehend the intent of the rating. It may be that the rating simply needs amendment by establishing clear standards and specific rating schema. In other words, the lack of an established infrastructure does not mean the system should be abolished. Problems with the process of implementation should be solved separately.
Lee Somin /
Division of Law ’13
Newly released film, Moebius, directed by Kim Kiduk was restricted, and it embroiled fierce controversy. The core of the controversy is that restricted screening does not merely restrict films. In fact, when films receive a restricted screening rating, it means “It is impossible to show the film.” However, it is more doubtful that the purpose of the restricted screening rating is to prevent the general public from excessive lasciviousness. The word “excessive” has become considerably obscure, and it is hard set proper standards for it. In this way, it is hard to agree with the assertion that it is necessary to restrict films.
First of all, the biggest problem with restricted screening is that it does not differ from banning a film entirely, and it contradicts the original intent of rating itself. According to legislation, films that are rated restricted screening should run only in designated theaters. The problem is there are not enough theaters to show them. Also, it is substantially difficult to promote these films because they can only be advertised in designated theaters, making it extremely difficult to release the films successfully. Rather than providing opportunities for one to freely choosing a film, it ignores one’s freedom of choice and isolates the film from the public.
Moreover, it is hard to guarantee fairness. Deliberation is done entirely by the Korea Media Rating Board independently. However, the more diverse a film is, the more arguments it provokes because most people feel the rating was carried out arbitrarily without concrete standards. In modern society, it is almost impossible to have absolute standards regarding proper social values or ustoms. When giving a restricted screening rating, it should be done by a voluntary deliberation agency.
Furthermore, in Korea, where conservative notions are prevalent, government standards can differ from other countries. In an era of globalization, the government should consider foreign ideals as well as Korean values. The Korean government will claim a film’s content violates Korea’s beautiful and fine custom when banning a film that was praised very highly overseas; however, this statement invades a person’s right to know why it was favorably reviewed outside of Korea. Therefore, I disagree with enforcing restricted screening because it distances film and audience even though the rating’s intent is to arouse alert before watching the film.