CJEntertainment and Cinema Service, two of Korea's leading film companies, havestepped up their recent partnership with a merger of their international salesdivisions.

The development will see all of the two companies'current and library titles represented by an expanded sales team operatingunder the CJ name. The merger iseffective as of June 1, and the new team will make its market debut at thePusan and AFM markets in the autumn.

JenniferMuhn, who recently returned as managing director of Cinema Service's sales teamafter a two-year stint as head of its distribution arm, is expected to hold amajor post in the merged division.

The moveis part of a steadily expanding partnership between the two companies that hasits roots in CJ's purchase of Cinema Service's parent company PlenusEntertainment in early 2004.

AlthoughCinema Service originally fought to sever ties with CJ, it later gravitatedtowards its former rival, and CJ now owns 40% of Cinema Service and acontrolling stake in the CS-launched Primus exhibition chain.

In April,CJ announced it would provide $15m in financing for ten upcoming titles onCinema Service's slate. Industryrumours also suggest that the two sides have discussed a more comprehensivemerger of their entire operations, but the idea is said to have beentemporarily set aside.

CJ's deeppockets and aggressive expansion in the fields of exhibition, distribution,broadcasting, and internet gaming have made it the undisputed power broker ofthe Korean film industry. Whereas CinemaService once played the part of its major rival, that mantle has now passed toShowbox, which like CJ is a vertically-integrated studio backed by a majorconglomerate.