A poster for the festival-opening film 'Because I Hate Korea'
A poster for the festival-opening film 'Because I Hate Korea' is seen outside the Busan Cinema Center. AFP

A South Korean film about a disillusioned young woman who relocates to New Zealand will open Asia's largest film festival Wednesday as it looks to rally from a year marked by scandal and budget cutbacks.

The Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) will run until October 13 and feature 209 official entries from 69 countries. Eighty will be making their world premieres in the southern port city.

This year's edition comes as organisers grapple with the fallout from former festival director Huh Moon-yung's resignation in May amid accusations of sexual misconduct. An inquiry is underway.

BIFF had its 2023 budget reduced by about 10 percent as sponsors withdrew in the wake of the allegations, according to organisers.

Kang Seung-ah, now serving as acting managing director, acknowledged they had endured a "difficult phase".

But "leveraging the strength of our members, we have prepared a festival that is more substantial than ever before", Kang told reporters ahead of the event.

The world premiere of South Korean director Jang Kun-jae's "Because I Hate Korea" will take centre stage on opening night.

The film, which revolves around a young woman's decision to abandon her monotonous life in South Korea and go overseas alone, is based on the best-selling 2015 novel of the same name by Chang Kang-myoung.

Described as "an earnest exploration of the pursuit of happiness", it addresses the challenges faced by Korea's younger generation, including intense competition and widening class disparity.

"The Movie Emperor", a satirical take on the Chinese film industry directed by Ning Hao and starring Hong Kong actor Andy Lau, will close the festival.

Ning's comedy "deftly captures the fine line between the film industries in Hong Kong and mainland China", as well as the "delicate relationship between Western film festivals and Asian filmmakers", according to the programme notes.

The festival will also feature serious star power, with acclaimed Hong Kong actor Chow Yun Fat being presented the Asian Filmmaker of the Year award.

Three of Chow's films -- "A Better Tomorrow" (1986), "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" (2000) and 2023's "One More Chance" -- will be screened in his honour.

Other highly anticipated screenings include "Dear Jinri", a documentary that features late K-pop star Sulli's last and incomplete project.

Sulli, born Choi Jin-ri, took her own life in 2019 after a long struggle with online bullying. The film includes her final media interview, which has not been disclosed previously.

Korea's filmmaking diaspora will also be showcased with a special series of screenings that includes "Searching" (2018), starring John Cho, and director Celine Song's Sundance favourite "Past Lives".

Netflix's highly anticipated "Yellow Door: 90s Lo-fi Film Club" will also have its world premiere at BIFF.

The documentary film spotlights the celebrated generation of South Korean filmmakers that emerged in the 1990s, including Oscar-winning "Parasite" director Bong Joon-ho.

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