South Korean producer-investor-distributor MK Pictures has sold a controlling stake to regional cabler Kangwon Networks.

In deals totalling $16.3m, major stockholder Lee Eun sold his 11.76% stake, while his wife and partner Shim Jae-myung sold her 6.54%, both to Kangwon head Kim Young-kyun. Another founder of the company, filmmaker Kang Je-gyu, also sold his 10.8% stake to a consortium headed by Kim.

Kangwon Networks, owner of Kangwon Broadcasting, has plans to become a multi-media content provider and is also entering exhibition.

MK invested in and distributed the recent horror hit Paradise Murdered, which it is also selling internationally. The company was formed by a high-profile merger of Myung Film - producer of films such as Kim Ki-duk's The Isle and Park Chan-wook's JSA - and Kang Je-gyu Films, which mostly produced the director's hits such as Shiri and Taegukgi.

The two companies traded stocks with Seshin Buffalo to become MK Buffalo, thus establishing a backdoor listing, about three years ago, and then separated from Seshin about two years ago to become MK Pictures.

The company also has an exhibition business in mainland China in partnership with Beijing-based Poly Group, and opened its first multiplex in Zhengzhou this January.

MK stated that Lee Eun and Shim Jae-myung will continue to run the film business departments, with productions including Women's Handball Team to carry on as usual. Lee added that MK will maintain its distribution activities - concentrating on films it has invested in and/or produced itself.

Currently based in the US, Kang Je-gyu is focused on making his English-language directorial debut.

MK formerly partnered with Sponge Entertainment to distribute Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's Babel earlier this year, but has stepped back from co-distributing the Tarantino-Rodriguez combo Grindhouse with the specialist distributor.

Sponge is instead joining forces with Chungeorahm Films - producer of monster hit The Host - which recently announced it is getting back into distribution.

Sponge and Chungeorahm plan to release the first installment of the double-hander, Death Proof, on Aug 30. The film will open on about 150 screens, to be followed by the second picture later in the year depending on the results of the first.