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Local films take over half of Korean market

2004/01/27 | Permalink | Source

The Korean Film Commission is estimating a 53.2 percent market share for Korean films in 2003, based on extrapolations of Seoul audience numbers. If the prediction turns out to be true, it would be the highest market share ever recorded by Korean films after a legislative revision in 1984 that allowed direct imports of foreign films.

According to the "2003 Korean Film Industry Review", compiled by the Korean Film Commission and released on its Web site, the market share of Korean films in Seoul stood at 49.7 percent at the end of last year.

"Considering the fact that the market share of Korean films nationwide has been on average 3.5 percent higher than the same figure in Seoul for the past three years, it may be estimated that the market share of Korean films will be around 53.2 percent in 2003", the report said.

The nationwide market share exceeded the Seoul market share by 3 percent in 2000, 4 percent in 2001 and 3.3 percent in 2002.

Meanwhile, the domestic market continued to grow last year with 44.4 million viewers in Seoul, an 8.9 percent rise over 2002. Korean films, in particular, attracted 22.1 million of those viewers, a 20.2 percent boost over the previous year.

Eight of the top 10 films of 2003 in audience numbers were Korean films, with only "Matrix 2: Reloaded" and "The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King" able to crack into the top 10 rankings.

Concerns about cultural diversity remained, however, as Korean and American films combined to seize 92.9 percent of the domestic market. Furthermore, even Korean films that sought to offer an alternative to the mainstream performed poorly at the box office.

"If You Were Me", which brought together six short films to tackle the issue of human rights in Korea, drew just 17,389 viewers in Seoul. "The Road Taken", dealing with the world's longest-serving political prisoner Kim Sun-myung, lured only 5,989 viewers in the city.

"2003 Arirang", a remake of the 1926 Na Un-gyu classic that gained attention for opening in Pyongyang, was last year's biggest box office bomb in Seoul, attracting merely 1,054 viewers.

By Kim Jin

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