The inaugural Seoul International Youth Film Festival was held on September 10–12, 1999. Its programming featured 77 films from 10 countries. National screenings took place in 17 cities. Over the years, the festival has considerably expanded. Instead of just three days, its lasts a week, and the programming includes more than 180 films in from over 40 countries (as of 2015).
SYIFF’s program is divided into several sections such as Play, Family, Friends, Romances, Mania, Dream Theater, Competition 9+, Competition 13+, Competition 19+, and Special Program (themed screenings and retrospectives). The program also features the opening film and the closing film screened at the opening ceremony and the closing ceremony, respectively.
Along with competition and non-competition screenings, the program of the Seoul International Youth Film Festival features a lot of exciting events. They include the opening ceremony with the traditional red carpet, the closing ceremony, Seoul International Youth Camp for teenagers from around the world (typically held a week or so before the festival itself), the Video Media Education Forum and other industry events (special lectures, talks, panels, meetings with special guests), and special events designed for a wide audience.
The Seoul International Youth Film Festival is a competitive one. Each competition section (9+, 13+ and 19+) features short films made by children and young people of corresponding ages (9–12 years, 13–18 years, 19 years and older).
The best short film in each section is awarded with the SYIFF Grand Prize. Besides, there are special awards such as the Artistic Experiment Award, the Challenging Reality Award, the SYIFF International Youth Jury Award (only in the 13+ section), and the SYIFF Eyes Award.