Japanese major Shochiku and Korea's Cinema Service are teaming up to produce $1.8m (Y200m) drama Pure Love Melody (Sunebo), billed as one of the most equal co-productions between the two countries since Korea lifted its 35-year-old cultural embargo against Japan.

At a Tokyo press conference yesterday, representatives from the two companies said that Cinema Design will provide 60% of the film's budget, and handle international sales, with Shochiku supplying the remaining 40%. Shochiku will distribute the film in Japan.

"There have been other Japanese and Korean co-productions, but this is the first one involving major film companies from both countries, with each investing on a more or less equal basis," a Shochiku spokesperson said.

Lee Jae-Yong, whose 1998 An Affair won the Grand Prize at the Fukuoka Film Festival, is directing the film which started production at the end of last month. Lee Joung-Je and Misato Tachibana star as a couple living in Seoul who fall in love on the internet and decide to make their future in the wilds of Alaska. Korean release is set for December, while Japanese release is scheduled for 2001.

Korean authorities began lifting the post-World War II ban on the import of Japanese popular culture in the autumn of 1998. Since that time, several Japanese films, including Shunji Iwai's Love Letter and Masayuki Suo's Shall We Dance', have become box office hits in Korea, opening up a lucrative market for the Japanese film industry.