South Korea's Daesung Group, a major energy conglomerate, has unveiled plans to enter the Korean film industry as an investor.
The group's initial venture will come in the form of a strategic partnership with production companies EGG Films and Keyweck Shidae.
After an initial investment of $250,000 (WON 300m) each in EGG Film's Old Boy (pictured, directed by Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance's Park Chan-wook) and Keyweck Shidae's Appa-hago Na-hago, Daesung Group plans to put together a $10m (WON 1.2 billion) film investment fund to be utilised by these two production companies.
In a statement the company said, "In the future we plan to expand our film business activities through various alliances with production companies that possess ability and vision."
The announcement comes as the Korean film industry grapples with the bursting of a film financing bubble and the exit of many venture capital companies which helped to finance Korea's film boom since 1999.
Established in 1947, Daesung Group is a major supplier of natural gas to the Korean peninsula and Southeast Asia, with subsidiaries in the fields of construction, finance, and environmental research. The group has also shown a recent interest in the fashion industry and integrated media services. In 2002, the conglomerate as a whole reported a net income of $54m on total sales of $1.71 billion.
Production company EGG Films was established in 2001 when it signed five noted Korean directors to long term contracts. Its most recent production The Classic by director Kwak Jae-yong (My Sassy Girl) earned $7m. on its Korean release and has sold well to other Asian territories.
Keyweck Shidae was established in the early 1990s by influential producer Yoo In-taek, and has most recently produced comedy Bet On My Disco (2002) and mega-flop Resurrection Of The Little Match Girl (2002) by Jang Sun-woo