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BICOF beckons fans of comics, webtoons with more audience-centered programs

By Lee Si-jin

Published : Aug. 25, 2023 - 15:03

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The 2022 Bucheon International Comics Festival (KOMACON) The 2022 Bucheon International Comics Festival (KOMACON)

The Bucheon International Comics Festival plans to solidify its position as Gyeonggi Province’s top cultural festival with more visitor-friendly programs, business gatherings, exhibitions and entertainment.

The upcoming 2023 BICOF, which has been one of the province's top festivals for the past eight years, is to run from Sept. 14 to 17 at the Korea Manhwa Museum in Bucheon.

Under the theme of “Manhwa, Connecting Minds,” the festival seeks to present ways for individuals to understand and be more open-minded toward each other through creating, sharing and reading comics.

A special exhibition of the 2023 Bucheon Manhwa Award winners -- illustrator Lee Ha-jin’s “Family of Gambling Addict” (unofficial translation), author Jeong Hae-na’s “Calls of Jonathan” and Thea Rojzman’s “Grand Silence” -- will be held at the first and third floors of the Korea Manhwa Museum.

The event seeks to deliver a festive atmosphere and entertaining programs, as well as unique learning and networking opportunities for comic and webtoon enthusiasts.

“Visitors who aim to work in the comics (webtoon) industry might want to pay a visit to the mentoring program and business consulting on Sept. 14. We have prepared two webtoon forums to discuss the current state of the local and global webtoon industry and the future of comics in an era of artificial intelligence on Sept. 16,” Korea Manhwa Contents Agency President Shin Jong-cheol said at a press conference held at Korea Press Center in Jongno-gu, central Seoul.

Korea Manhwa Contents Agency President Shin Jong-cheol speaks at a press conference held at the Korea Press Center in Jongno-gu, central Seoul, Thursday. (KOMACON) Korea Manhwa Contents Agency President Shin Jong-cheol speaks at a press conference held at the Korea Press Center in Jongno-gu, central Seoul, Thursday. (KOMACON)

“Visitors will get the chance to learn more about lesser-known, exciting projects promoted by various illustrators and webtoon companies at Manhwa Market. Fans can enjoy the Gyeonggi International Cosplay Festival -- the only global cosplay event in South Korea -- on Sept. 16, featuring a total of 50 cosplayers from 15 countries including the US, Hong Kong, Norway, Spain, Thailand and more,” Shin added.

The selected artworks of the National Student Comics Contest will be displayed at this year’s BICOF as well.

Visitors enjoy the exhibition at the 2022 Bucheon International Comics Festival at Korea Manhwa Museum. (KOMACON) Visitors enjoy the exhibition at the 2022 Bucheon International Comics Festival at Korea Manhwa Museum. (KOMACON)

“KOMACON does not stand for any particular political view. The Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission and experts advised that the fundamental role of cartoons is to satirize and entertain. We will continue to hold a fair and appropriate comics contest which does not lose the true value of cartoons,” Shin emphasized.

A drawing by a high school student titled “Yoon Suk-yeol-cha” displayed at the 2022 BICOF ignited public debate on freedom of expression when the Culture Ministry decided to cancel the approval of the use of its name as a sponsor of BICOF and issued a stern warning against the KOMACON.

The satirical drawing depicted President Yoon Suk Yeol in the form of Thomas the Tank Engine, with his wife Kim Keon Hee as a train driver and people running away from the train.

This year’s BICOF is not sponsored by the Culture Ministry.

Tickets for the Korea Manhwa Museum are 5,000 won each. Visitors can freely enjoy the venues and programs outside the museum at no extra charge.

Prior to the opening ceremony, a special music concert will take place at 6 p.m. on Sept. 14.

The opening ceremony is scheduled to take place at the main lobby of the Korea Manhwa Museum at 5 p.m. on Sept 15. The festival runs through Sept. 17.