South Korean box office surged 16.5% in 2004 and Koreanfilms took an unprecedented 60.3% share of the market, on the back ofrecord-busting performances by local features Tae Guk Gi and Silmido.

Nonetheless, a drop off at the end of the year has observerswondering if Korea's boom has reached its peak.

According to a report released by leading exhibition chainCGV, nationwide admissions in 2004 reached a 32-year high of 138.7m, up from119m in 2003. Although CGV didn'testimate box-office revenues, an average ticket price of approximately $5.50would yield a total of $763m.

A multiplex boom and a local film renaissance has kept boxoffice growth in double digits since 1999, when total admissions only amountedto 54.7m. Notably, 2004 saw the firstinstance of the 10m admissions mark being broken, as both military drama Silmido(released on December 24, 2003) and Korean War film Tae Guk Gi finishednorth of 11m admissions.

Nonetheless, the final three months of the year saw anoticeable loss of momentum, with October, November and December all performingbelow 2003 levels. The slowdown has been particularly sharp for local films,with December recording the lowest local market share in four years (16.5%).

The capital Seoul saw overall growth in admissions of 5% toreach 46.3m admissions. Local marketshare in Seoul was considerably lower than in regional areas, at 54.8%.

Aside from Tae Guk Gi ($64.5m) and Silmido($60.1m, including 2003), top performing films include Troy ($21.4m), Shrek2 ($17.8m), and local films My Little Bride ($17.3) and Once UponA Time In High School ($16.6).