Old Partner, a documentary about an old man and his cow, has topped the South Korean box office with 419,295 admissions from 276 screens this past weekend.

The sleeper hit, which is distributed by Indiestory both in Korea and overseas, has accumulated a record 1,393,079 admissions for a documentary, and $6.13m since its release Jan 15 when it opened on seven screens.

National interest in the quiet hard-working old man, his cow, and his complaining but sympathetic wife had reached a pitch last week and last Friday, the film's producer Koh Young-jae held a press conference asking the local media to respect the privacy of the couple portrayed in the film.

He also addressed the issue of having had president Lee Myung-bak and the first lady to a screening and his dismay over the politicisation of the film; as well as the need to continue support for independent films.

He is dedicating 30% of his proceeds to helping other indie films get distributed - beginning with the recent Rotterdam VPRO Tiger Award winner Breathless, directed by Yang Ik-june.

In the number two spot at the Korean box office, Warner Brothers' The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button took 292,345 admissions. SK Telecom's local horror film Handphone followed with 229,979 admissions, and Showbox Mediaplex's local stock market fraud film The Scam took 226,823 admissions.

Sungwon I Com is distributing The Secret Of Moonacre which took 116,291 admissions, while N.E.W. has He's Just Not That Into You with 132,271 admissions. UPI Korea's The Tale Of Desespereau and 20th Century Fox's Marley & Me follow with 86,758 and 83,637 admissions each.

In the number nine spot, another local sleeper hit, Scandal Makers, has accumulated $35.14m since its release Dec 4. It's followed by Garfield's Funfest with 37,082 admissions, distributed by KD Media.