During the first six months of 2001, Korean films have carved out a 39% share of their domestic market a spectacular leap of 14% compared with the same period last year.

According to figures published by the Korean Film Commission (KOFIC) and film data company IPictures, a total of 13.6 million tickets were sold between Jan 1 and June 17 in Seoul. Of the 154 overall releases, 27 Korean films accounted for 5.32 million admissions.

Leading the local boom was the record-breaking Friend, directed by Kwak Kyung-taek which is still on release. Distributed by Korea Pictures, it alone accounted for 2.61 million admissions in Seoul and 19% of the market. The noirish nostalgia film, which will make its international debut at the Montreal World Film Festival, dominated screens and headlines in its home territory throughout April and May, a traditionally slow period for ticket sales. But it was not alone. Eight other Korean-made films also appeared in the top twenty.

The market share for Korean films is now expected to dip in the coming months, due to the prominence of Hollywood product during the busy summer season.

However, upcoming local blockbusters scheduled for release in the autumn, such as Musa: The Warrior and Resurrection Of The Little Match Girl, will give Korean cinema a decent shot at equalling the 32.2% total share for local films for the whole of 2000.