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Credits Roll for Korea's Oldest Movie Theater

2008/09/26 Source

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Dansungsa, the oldest movie theater in Korea in Myo-dong, Jongno-gu in Seoul, has gone bankrupt. The main creditor bank of the cinema, Woori Bank, on Thursday said Dansungsa on Sept. 19 failed to pay overdraft repayments worth W1.5 billion (US$1=W1,159) to the Jongno 3-ga branch of Woori Bank and it was finally declared bankrupt on Wednesday.

Dansungsa underwent renovation in 2001 to transform itself from a single-hall theater to a multiplex screening up to 10 films simultaneously. It reopened in 2005 and since May this year has been partnered with Cinus, operating as Cinus Dansungsa. However, due to overspending in the renovation and failure to compete with rivals backed by big business like CGV, Megabox and Lotte Cinema, it recorded a W11 billion loss last year.

Dansungsa recorded sales of W4.4 billion last year, a mere 56 percent of the previous year's W7.8 billion. Despite the bankruptcy, Dansungsa will continue to screen movies for the time being. "It is the owner of the Dansungsa Building who filed for bankruptcy, and therefore the operation of Cinus multiplex movie theater in the building will continue for the moment", a Cinus spokesman said.

Dansungsa, which opened as a performing arts hall in 1907, was transformed into a movie theater in mid 1910, and screened Korea's first film "Fight for Justice" on Oct. 27, 1919. It soon became the center of Korea's film industry, hosting the premieres of numerous films including "Arirang (1926), "The Story of Chung-hyang (1935)", "Winter Woman (1977)", and more recently "The General's Son (1990)" and "Seopyeonje (1993)".
Dansungsa in 1955 (left) and in 2005, when it reopened after renovation

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