We are now regularly profiling some of the members of World Fixer to find out how they started, what they’ve been up to and what makes them tick. We hope these interviews will be useful for other fixers, those looking to break into the business or clients keen to know who’s out there.
We’ve recently seen a spike in requests for South Korea and in response to that decided to chat to Jay K Ko in Seoul.
How long have you been working as a fixer/local producer?
It has been 11 years now. After I graduated from film school, I worked at a film production office, as a grip, and in camera department for three years in LA. Then I came back to Korea and started working as an on-set producer for ‘West 32nd’ which was a co-produced movie between the U.S. and CJ productions, the biggest entertainment company in Korea.
What kind of projects do you typically work on?
Ongoing projects that I’m currently working on include a Discovery Channel project in Korea + South East Asia, a Korean documentary shooting in South-East Asia, and the “Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson” from U.S.
How did you get into the business?
I used to work on production for Korean movies and TV helping with foreign location shoots. A German DP I met back in the U.S. recommended me as a Korean Fixer for a TV documentary and my career started then.
Is South Korea a busy destination for foreign film companies?
Korea is a popular location for movies and TV productions from South-East Asia and China due to the influence of K-pop and K-drama. Also, blockbusters such as ‘Avengers’ and ‘Black Panther’ were recently shot here, as well as quite a few European movies and TV soaps making repeat visits.
International media seems very focused on the current situation with the North. Do you find yourself working on the same kind of stories all the time in relation to this?
It seems like media exposure has increased since the Kim Jong-un government started. I imagine that this will increase in time, especially if there was to be some kind of regime change.
Is South Korea an easy place to produce?
Korea is a safe and easily approachable location for international media. If crews from countries have visa waiver agreement with Korea, all they need is a passport with more than six months expiration period at the time of entry – there is no other requirement as long as the shooting in Korea is less than a month. If a movie or TV shoot takes place at government property or a military zone, the maximum permit of a week will be given. Usually there is no cost but if so it is maximum a couple of hundred dollars. Since there is high demand for equipment due to popularity of Korean movies and TV in Asia, equipment rental is not a problem. Experienced, diligent Korean crews can be provided however, technical crews with fluent English are limited.
Have you had many enquiries about the Winter Olympics? What will you be providing around this event?
We made an agreement with one foreign broadcasting company visiting the Pyeong Chang Winter Olympic so far. The most important aspect for J KO PRODUCTION is trust and confidence.
Our team crews are enthusiastic and experienced crews who worked not only for movies and TV production in Korea but also at location shootings all over the world for many years. We will provide the most trustworthy service for you in any genre or any format such as fixing, equipment rental, casting Korean actors, production services, etc.
Is South Korea keen to outdo the games in Sochi? How important is it to the country to put on a good show at this time?
Reviewing the aspects of success, problems and know-how of Sochi would be helpful in order for Pyeong Chang to host a successful Olympic. Koreans overcame difficult times such as the impeachment of former president, election of new government, and North Korea’s missile test and so on, thus I strongly believe Koreans would gather strength and passion through the international festivity of the Olympics.
What kind of stories about South Korea do you feel would be interesting to international media that they may not currently know about?
Korea is the fastest country in accepting other country’s culture, trend, and products compared to any other country, and we spread and influence all over other Asian countries in a Koreanized way. For examples, many foreign teams visit to participate in games and offseason training for E-Sports (online game). There are many unknown places to travel such as the fantastic Jeju Island or Islands located near Northern Line Limits, and Korean foods are not yet as popular as Chinese or Japanese food which means theres much to discover.
In addition, Korea has the fastest internet speed in the world and due to that a broadcasting channel run by a private person called BJ (Broadcasting Jacky) is a huge trend in Korea. I believe this could be a test base for a future broadcasting format to be picked up around the world.
What has been your favourite job so far and what did you do?
For a few weeks I worked with the Kanak (natives) on the Isle of Pine for a Korean soap opera ‘Boys Over Flowers’. Also, thousands of fans voluntarily showed up at the airport for Conan O’Brian and I would never forget their huge support and passion as well as the online reviews of fans all over the world after the ‘Conan Show Remote in Korea’ was aired.