South Korean cinema recorded a 53% local market share in 2003 - the strongest on record - according to a report just released by the Korean Film Commission (KOFIC).

The nationwide figure is an estimate based on a 49.7% local market share for Seoul (where accurate figures are more readily available, and where Korean cinema slightly underperforms relative to the nation as a whole). Nationwide figures for past years are estimated at 48.3% for 2002 and 50.1% for 2001.

Hollywood cinema accounted for 43.2% of the Seoul market, with the remainder accounted for by Japanese (3.0%), Chinese/HK (2.5%), French (0.7%), and other cinemas (0.8%).

Seoul admissions as a whole recorded an 8.9% increase on the previous year, with the nationwide increase likely to be larger still due to multiplex growth. The overall market for cinema in South Korea has been expanding steadily since the nation's first multiplex opened in 1998.

For distributor rankings, local major CJ Entertainment successfully seized the top spot from rival Cinema Service with 22.3% of a crowded market, compared to 18.5% for Cinema Service. Following behind were Warner Bros (8.1%), Chungeorahm (formerly Big Blue Films, 7.5%), BVI (6.7%), Columbia Tristar (5.1%), Korea Pictures (4.8%), Showbox (4.8%), UIP (4.8%), and 20th Century Fox (4.3%).

Korean films accounted for 8 of the top 10 grossing films of the year, with Bong Joon-ho's acclaimed Memories Of Murder earning the top spot.

Notably, however, both The Return Of The King, released on December 19, and local blockbuster Silmido, released on December 24, passed Memories' nationwide total in mid-January. With well over 2 million admissions in Seoul and 7.6m nationwide, Silmido is expected to soon become the best-selling film in Korea's history.

2003 Top Ten Admissions, Seoul only
1. Memories Of Murder (S Korea), CJ Entertainment 1,912,725
2. My Tutor Friend (S Korea), CJ Entertainment 1,630,937
3. The Matrix Reloaded (US),Warner Bros 1,596,000
4. Untold Scandal (S Korea), CJ Entertainment 1,292,951
5. LOTR: The Return Of The King (US-NZ), CJ Entertainment 1,221,545 *
6. Old Boy (S Korea), Show East 1,140,000 *
7. A Tale Of Two Sisters (S Korea) Chungeorahm 1,017,027
8. The Greatest Expectation (S Korea), CJ Entertainment 960,598
9. Once Upon A Time In A Battlefield (S Korea), Cineworld/Cinema Service 960,394
10. Oh! Brothers (S Korea), Showbox 952,010
* not including 2004 admissions