Tokyo-based distributor Cine Quanon, in co-operation with Korean film producer CJ Entertainment, plans to release the hit Korean thriller Joint Security Area on as many as 350 screens, a new high for an Asian film in Japan.

Set to open nationwide on May 19, Joint Security Area is expected to overtake the previous record holder: Shuri, the 1999 Korean thriller that grossed $2m from a total of 140 screens, the biggest box office result for any Korean film in the Japanese market.

Cine Quanon, which also distributed Shuri, will make a final decision on its release strategy following test screenings in mid-March, but expects to roll out to at least 300 screens and as many as 350 -- the number for a major Hollywood title.

Starring Young Ae Lee and Byung-heon Lee and directed by Chan-wook Park, Joint Security Area achieved 2.43 million admissions in Korea by the end of 2000, making it the year's domestic box office champion and second on the all-time list, after Shuri.

Produced by CJ Entertainment and Myung Film, Joint Security Area describes the efforts of a Swiss-Korean military investigator to learn the truth behind the killing of a North Korean soldier and the wounding of his South Korean counterpart at the DMZ.