Star TikTok creators brought a fresh new wave to the Daejong International Film Awards as honorary ambassadors of the traditional film fest.
The 58th Daejong Awards, also known as the Grand Bell Awards, took place at the New Millennium Grand Theater at Konkuk University in Seoul on Friday night. The night kicked off with a red carpet ceremony where prominent actors and directors including Park Hae-il, Park So-dam and director Kim Han-min were in attendance.
Alongside the cineastes were four TikTok creators -- WonJeong, Sia Jiwoo, Changha and Elina Karimovaa – who were the ambassadors of this year's edition.
The four creators, all affiliated with the nation's largest TikTok creator agency Soon ENT, are among the biggest names in the short-form video industry in South Korea. The four creators’ followers come out to over 110 million. WonJeong recently surpassed 50 million followers as the first Korean creator other than K-pop supergroup BTS, outpacing even the nation's biggest girl group Blackpink by over 10 million followers.
The creators also took the stage on Friday night as award presenters.
This is the first time that a major film award ceremony has featured honorary ambassadors from outside the industry.
The four TikTok creators were officially appointed to their roles during the awards' press conference on Oct. 12, along with the announcement of nominees for its 19 categories. The four creators were named as ambassadors alongside several NFT artists and webtoon authors.
The Daejong Awards began in 1962 and grew into one of the nation's most prestigious film awards. It fell out of the limelight starting in 2015, when several renowned actors and directors boycotted the event for mandating attendance in order to win an award. In conjunction with other controversies over an unfair nomination process and sloppy organization, the awards ceremony quickly lost its luster in the coming years.
The 57th edition of the awards were skipped last year due to COVID-19, and the awards returned with the 58th edition for the first time in over two years.
At the October press conference, the Daejong Awards’ organizers proclaimed that they had overcome the event’s past disgrace and voiced their strong will to reform it into a transparent and global award ceremony. The team of TikTok creator ambassadors were introduced as part of this process to promote the awards internationally.
"It's time that we make South Korea known through the Daejong Awards like the Academy (Awards). We've come to expand the Daejong Awards' spectrum to create a sustainable Korean culture," Yang Yun-ho, head of the Korean Association of Filmmakers -- the host of the 58th Daejong Awards -- said to the press on Oct. 12.
The biggest honor of this year's Daejong Awards went to director Park Chan-wook's "Decision to Leave." The Cannes-winning romance-mystery swept up a total of three awards, including for the most-coveted best picture and best scenario. The film's main star Park Hae-il won the best actor award.
The best director award went to Byun Sung-hyun of "Kingmaker" and best actress to Yeom Jung-ah of the musical flick “Life is Beautiful.”