Korean powerhouse Kang Je Gyu has inked its long-anticipated first deal on war drama Tae Guk Gi, aftter. Japanese rights to the $12m picture was sold to Universal Pictures Japan (UPJ), for an undisclosed sum.

The deal enables Kang Je Gyu, Korean distributor Showbox and UPJ to begin immediate work on the marketing campaign. The film is shooting now under the direction of founder Kang (who previously made hit Shiri) and will be released in Japan In mid 2004. The deal also improves Kang Je Gyu's chances of obtaining a top-level deal in North America.

Kang Je Gyu will itself handle sales to Asian distributors, but is seeking a deal for the Americas and Europe. It is known to be in talks with at least three studios.