South Korean President Moon Jae-in visited the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) and vowed not to interfere in its affairs.
The BIFF opened in Busan, South Korea on October 12 amid the problem of political interference that hounded the festival in the last three years.
In 2014, Busan Mayor Suh Byoung-soo was accused of blocking the screening of the documentary "The Truth Shall Not Sink with Sewol" about the sinking of the Sewol ferry in April 2014 that killed close to 300 people. The film was critical of the administration of then President Park Geun-hye.
President Moon assured that his administration will not do anything against the festival.
"No other international culture and arts event has had the success of BIFF. It's become one of the world's top five film festivals and Asia's signature film festival. It's developed this much and has made Busan a city of film. But it pained me to hear that BIFF has shrunk due to political influences," he said.
He lamented that "even now, many film industry personnel are not participating. ... I hope (BIFF) will be able to restore its former glory and develop into a more prominent international film festival."
"I promise to provide as much support as possible without interfering and trust the festival's organization entirely to filmmakers' freedom and independence," Moon vowed.
The BIFF will screen 300 films from 75 countries until October 21.
A number of people said the festival has not recovered from the political conflict.
"The festival has not recovered 100 percent. Numerous international film festivals have expressed their disapproval of the Busan government's actions. Government funding for BIFF also remains insufficient," said Kang Seong-taek, 20, a film and media student at Pusan National University. "
This year's budget for the festival is about US$10.4 million coming from the Busan and national government.
Hollywood director Oliver Stone, who chairs the BIFF's New Currents category this year, said the Korean government is guilty of censorship.
"There is a problem with freedom of expression in the Korean government, as you could see in the past Rhee Syng-man administration, and the Park Geun-hye administration strongly limited (freedom of expression)," he said.
Korean star Jang Dong-gun of the movie "V.I.P" said that the "(BIFF) is going through growing pains, but I hope it maintains its international acclaim. I'm sure it's a process of becoming a better festival. I hope all political influences disappear from not only BIFF but the culture and arts world."