Organizers say the Atlanta Korean Film Festival is the first such event in the Southeast.

When organizers of the Atlanta Korean Film Festival began planning three years ago, they could scarcely have picked a better launch date than Oct. 5.

Gangnam Style“, a Korean pop song by the artist PSY, has taken the world by storm with a catchy dance and a viral music video that has garnered more than 382 million views on YouTube, whetting the world’s already growing appetite for Korean cultural exports.

But the song isn’t the only thing calling attention to Korea, said Judy Yi, festival manager. Much like the state of Georgia, the country’s film industry has steadily evolved in its artistry and professionalism over the past 20 years, she said.

The film festival, the brainchild of local Korean journalist Sung-ku Hong, capitalizes on the cultural momentum but also has the broader purpose of boosting Atlanta’s brand in Korea and strengthening bilateral business ties, Ms. Yi said.

“Because of the emerging Korean population in Georgia, in the South, the bigger vision is: How can we bridge for economic growth in these two countries?” she said.

Despite the fact that about 55 Korean companies, including Kia Motors, have facilities Georgia, even some of the most worldly Koreans know little about the state’s capital. 

“It raises awareness,” Ms. Yi said of the festival. “When we’re inviting stars from Korea, they’re like, ‘Where’s Atlanta? We’ve never heard of Atlanta.’ They’ve heard of L.A., New York, but they’ve never heard of Atlanta.”

Unlike other film festivals, which take a more artistic slant, the Atlanta Korean Film Festival will focus on contemporary films, including dramas, comedies and some animated movies. Christine Yoo, the Korean-American director of “Wedding Palace,” a comedy, was among the directors and actors slated to attend the red-carpet opening Oct. 5 at Georgia State University‘s Rialto Theater.

The idea for the festival came to Mr. Hong three years ago but really took off with the arrival last year of Consul General He-beom Kim, a former assistant minister of the Korean Culture and Information Service.

The Consulate General of Korea provided seed money for the event, which is also supported by Korea’s Ministry of Culture. It will include screenings in MidtownSandy Springs and as far away as AthensHyangsoon Yi, a comparative literature professor at the University of Georgia, is the festival’s executive director, Ms. Judy Yi said. Korean student groups will facilitate screenings and spread the word across the metro area, she added.

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As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...