Seoul-based CJ Entertainment (CJE) has sold period romance Hwang Jin Yi to Pony Canyon for Japan.

Directed by Chang Yoon-hyun (Some, Tell Me Something), the film deals with the life of Korea's most famous gisaeng (aka geisha) and poetess Hwang Jin Yi and her love affair with a lowly manservant. Song Hye-kyo (My Girl And I) plays Hwang, with Yoo Ji-tae (Old Boy) as her lover.

The $7.2m film is currently in the top three at the local box office, having grossed a total of $6.2m as of its second week.

Although Korean historical dramas are traditionally a hard sell to Japan, highly popular television series such as Jewel In The Palace - starring Lee Young-ae in a Joseon Dynasty royal kitchen, have softened up the ground. NHK also broadcasted the Korean TV series version of the Hwang Jin Yi story, which CJE presumes helped market the film.

Co-produced by Cine2000 and Siz Entertainment, the film is based on a North Korean novel by Hong Suk-joong, and parts of it were also filmed in the isolationist North.

The film previously sold to Festive for Singapore and Malaysia at the European Film Market in Berlin.