The Korean Film Council (KOFIC) has announced that South Korean box office receipts reached a record $375.68m (KW476.8bn) in the first half of 2009.

“Despite an overall stagnation in business across society and a decrease in consumption, the exhibition sector in 2009 has seen a 2.9% admissions increase in the first half year-on-year, and box office receipts have gone up 4.7%,” says the government organisation’s report.

Admissions went up to 72.17 million and box office topped the previous record, set in the first half of 2006, of $373.22m (KW473.7bn).

Local films saw a 23.6% increase in admissions and a 25.4% increase in box office compared to the first half of last year. This resulted in a 7.5% increase in market share to 44.7%. US films took 45% of the box office while Chinese films took 4.1%, European films 4.8% and Japanese films 1.1%.

Seven local films made it into the Top Ten – including spy comedy My Girlfriend Is An Agent, sleeper hits Scandal Makers and Old Partner and period drama A Frozen Flower.

CJ Entertainment was the leading distributor with a 25% market share due to films such as Transformers 2 and Bong Joon-ho’s Mother, while Lotte Entertainment surged to become the second biggest with a 20.4% share and the top three titles in the Top Ten – Terminator Salvation, My Girlfriend Is An Agent and Scandal Makers.

Showbox Mediaplex came in third with 15% of the market due to films such as A Frozen Flower and Red Cliff Part 2.

20th Century Fox Koreatook 8.3% of the market with films such as Night At The Museum: Battle Of The Smithsonian and Valkyrie, while Sony Pictures Releasing Buena Vista Korea took 5.5%, led by Angels & Demons.

Released in the last week of June, Transformers 2 still make it to number four in overall rankings for the first half. The robot film opened on a record 1,129 screens – more than 50% of all those in South Korea. This broke the record Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World’s End set when it opened on 912 screens in 2007.

Top 10 Films – Foreign & Local

(Title/release date/distributor/screens/admissions/box office)

1. Terminator Salvation (May 21) Lotte (704) 4,466,142 / $23.26m

2. My Girlfriend Is An Agent (April 22) Lotte (475) 4,031,831 / $20.78m                    

3. Scandal Makers (Dec 3) Lotte (405) 3,848,803 / $19.88m

4. Transformers 2 (June 24) CJ Ent (1,129) 3,373,607 / $17.79m       

5. A Frozen Flower (Dec 30) Showbox (499) 3,291,708 / $17.72m

6. Mother (May 28) CJ Ent (648) 2,923,324 / $15.46m  

7. Old Partner (Jan 15) Indiestory (20) 2,929,704 / $15.03m

8. Red Cliff 2 (Jan 22) Showbox (426) 2,672,665 / $13.92m    

9. Thirst (April 30) CJ Ent  (462) 2,211,188 / $11.73m   

10. Running Turtle (June 11) Showbox (379) 2,038,173 / $10.76m