This story was created in paid partnership with CJ ENM.
As the Korean entertainment industry gains more attention from around the world, entertainment powerhouse CJ ENM launched the Visionary Awards, wherein it names “visionaries” that will lead the entertainment industry. Ten honorees were awarded at the 2023 Visionary Awards, hosted by CJ ENM in Seoul on Jan. 8: (G)I-DLE, Chung Seo-kyung, Don Lee, IU, Kim Hye-soo, Lee Jin-ju, Lee Jung-jae, Nah Yung-suk, Park Chan-wook and Park Eun-bin.
The ceremony opened with red carpet arrivals, livestreamed on both YouTube and TVING, an online streaming platform launched by CJ ENM. During the 2023 Visionary Awards, all the attending awardees delivered acceptance speeches, sharing a common vision of spreading K-entertainment to a bigger global audience.
Don Lee addressed his fellow visionaries: “It’s my hope that the Visionary recipients will try their best to create entertaining content for the global audience that transcends language and boundaries.”
The ceremony was followed by an open house networking event. Figures from CJ ENM, as well as professionals from its affiliates such as production studios and music labels, mingled to share their inspirations and insights. Chris Rice and Graham Taylor, co-CEOs of Fifth Season, now part of the CJ ENM family, sent greetings and shared their excitement for the upcoming slate.
The event also featured talk sessions where invited speakers shared their thoughts on the Visionary honorees and the future of the entertainment industry.
“I hope that everyone here at 2023 Visionary Awards can share their inspiration and experience,” said Miky Lee, vice chairwoman of CJ, during the opening speech at the ceremony. “As a global entertainment powerhouse, CJ ENM will ensure talented artists and creators can live up to their full potential and dreams.”
The Visionary Awards event mirrors the company’s status as a leader in the Korean entertainment industry. CJ ENM is credited for introducing Korean content to international audiences and pushing to create a place for Korean content to exist in the global entertainment industry.
The entertainment powerhouse, which played a key role in the global expansion of Korean entertainment, started its vision in 1995 as early investors of DreamWorks. Since then, CJ ENM has been the proud producer and distributor of critically acclaimed films such as the Academy Award-winning film Parasite and 2022’s Decision to Leave, which took home the best director prize at the Cannes Film Festival. So far, 12 films financed and distributed by CJ ENM have been invited to Cannes. Having acquired an 80 percent stake in the scripted business unit of U.S. premium content studio Fifth Season last year, the company has been fostering original films and looking toward the future.
It also created KCON, the world’s largest K-culture festival, in 2012 as part of its goal to introduce not only Korean pop music but everything from food to beauty to the world. Fast forward to 2022, and KCON is now a signature festival that K-pop and K-culture fans from all around the world anticipate each year. The festival has reached fans in the U.S., Japan, Mexico, France and more.
Spearheading the global phenomenon of the Korean wave for over 25 years, the company is taking another giant leap, honoring the next wave of creators and artists set to lead the way and contribute to the entertainment industry with their originality. These “visionaries” shed light on the future of the entertainment industry and showcase originality in their specific art form.
The selection process of the honorees for the 2023 Visionary Awards involved quantitative data analytics and a panel of about 60 industry experts. This year, the company joined forces with Endeavor Analytics, a research and insights division of global sports and entertainment firm Endeavor. The five key selection criteria were: whether the individual has made extraordinary achievements, influenced industries even outside of the entertainment industry, broken stereotypes, created new genres or characters, and whether they made a global impact.
Past Visionary honorees have included music groups BTS and BLACKPINK, who are leading the global rise of K-pop; director Hwang Dong-hyuk, who is currently working on the second season of the global hit series Squid Game; and director Bong Joon Ho, the first Korean creator to win the best picture Oscar with Parasite.
“Where does the power of K-entertainment that transcends borders come from? For us, the answer to this question is originality, which is something unique each individual holds,” said Koo Chang-gun, CEO of CJ ENM, at the ceremony. “This is why we’ve held the Visionary Awards since 2020 — because we believe the power of entertainment comes directly from the people.”