Shiri, the blockbuster Korean spy movie, has been bought by Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group (CTMPG) for North America and Latin America.

The deal, which is expected to be confirmed today, is the first Korean picture to be handled by CTMPG.

The film, which was top grossing film in Korea in 1999, was one of the first to profit from thawing relations between Japan and Korea and it enjoyed huge success throughout Asia. In total the film, which is handled by its producers Kang Jegyu Films, has sold to 22 countries.

The Kang Jegyu-directed film was in large measure responsible for proving the commercial and technical potential of Korean cinema to distributors around the world. Other hits now gaining the attention of international buyers include Joint Security Area and Friend (Screendaily, April 27).

Shiri will be released later this year in what CTMPG describes as a "specialist release with a very targeted marketing campaign."

The deal was negotiated by Benedict Carver and Matthew Dixon, respectively CTMPG's acquisitions vice president and business affairs vice president, and Creta Kim, Kang Jegyu Films's director of overseas marketing.