Kim Dong-joo, ex-president of Korea Pictures, has announced the launch of an ambitious new investment and distribution company to focus on film and the performing arts.

Named Show East, the company has recently began shooting on its first feature Mutt Boy, by the director of Korea's current box-office record holder Friend (2001).

Other upcoming projects which will be financed and distributed through the new company include Old Boy, a dark thriller directed by Park Chan-wook (Joint Security Area, Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance); Acacia, a horror film by Park Ki-hyung, director of the 1998 box-office hit Whispering Corridors; and the as-yet untitled third project by acclaimed director Hur Jin-ho (Christmas In August, One Fine Spring Day).

Kim told that the company will serve primarily as a link between independent investors and production companies. "Although Show East itself does not possess a great deal of capital, we have close relations with very many small investors. I see our role as enabling talented filmmakers to access individual investors, to allow for truly independent financing."

With the Korean film industry still coping with the bursting of a film financing bubble, Kim admitted that convincing investors is a challenge. "Many investors are taking a wait and see attitude with regard to film financing, but I'm working to convince them that there are actually strong opportunities amidst the current crisis."

Financing for Mutt Boy, which is scheduled for delivery in late summer, was assembled from a large number of minority investors, and the financing for Park Chan-wook's Old Boy is said to be "almost complete." Kim has also expressed an interest in working together with foreign co-investors and co-producers for upcoming projects.

Overseeing Show East's performing arts division will be Im Young-gun, formerly of Korea Pictures, on upcoming productions such as Miss Saigon as well as a local musical based on the best-selling film Friend.