South Korea's Ministry of Finance And Economy has introduced plans to expand its system of tax breaks for small and medium-sized firms in the service sector to include the film industry.

The changes, if ratified by Korea's National Assembly later this year, will grant a five-year, 50% reduction in corporate taxes to new startups that employ 5-10 people.

In the case of further hiring in subsequent years, the level of tax reduction can potentially increase to as much as 100%.

The measure applies only to startups formed after July 1 2004. However, tax benefits on a smaller scale may also apply to existing film companies that carry out new investment.

The changes are part of the Ministry's efforts to bring the level of support for service industries (like film) up to the same scale as that enjoyed by the nation's manufacturers.

For years, the manufacturing sector has received preferential treatment. Economists are now pushing the government to develop its service sector, which accounts for 55.8% of the total economy.

The film industry's proposed inclusion in the tax benefit system is a sign of its growing reputation among local economists and policymakers.

A recent report by the Bank of Korea noted that total sales for the local film and entertainment industry had doubled over the last four years to reach $4.2bn.

The Bank noted that "the film industry has already eclipsed the level of many traditional industries," such as shoes ($1.7bn), leather and furs ($3.5bn), and timber ($3bn).