Chinese director Chen Kaige has signed on to direct a $6.2m Korean film as his next project.

The film, a period piece set on the Korean Peninsula during the era of the three kingdoms (200-660 AD), was reportedly conceived by Chen together with Lee Joo-ik, president of Korean production company Big Bang Creative.

Yet to receive an english title, the film is to be shot in Korea with a fully Korean cast and will boast a budget of $6.2m (Won 8bn), before p&a costs, potentially making it the most expensive Korean film in history. Big Bang Creative is expected to finance 50% of the film's cost, with the remainder expected to come from investors in the US and Japan.

The film, based on a Korean novel by Choi Ik-ho, is set in the Paekche kingdom and tells the story of a king who falls in love with the wife of one of his subjects. In order to be with the woman, the king sends her husband off to battle, where instead of being killed he is merely blinded.

Park Hun-soo, the Korean director of Love Bakery has written the screenplay, which is currently being polished by Chinese screenwriter Cheung Tan (Dragon Inn). Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, who scored Little Buddha and won an Oscar for The Last Emperor, has also been asked to write the film's music.

Chen is currently in Beijing and is scheduled to visit Korea from July 12 to 15. There he is expected to discuss the project and to meet with local actor Lee Jung-jae, star of Il Mare and The Uprising, who has been lined up as one of the two male leads. Shooting is likely to begin in February 2002.

He is currently completing work on his English-language debut, the erotic thriller Killing Me Softly, which is handled by sales company J&M Myriad Pictures and is scheduled for delivery in late August. Chen is also due to be honoured with a lifetime achievement award at next month's Locarno festival (Aug 2-12). His credits include Farewell My Concubine and The Emperor And The Assassin.