Korea-U.S. production adapted from bestseller

SEOUL — North Korea’s prison work camps are to be portrayed for the first time in Korea-U.S. co-production “The Aquariums of Pyongyang.”

Based on bestseller of the same name by Kang Chol-hwan and French historian Pierre Rigoulot, pic tells the true story of Kang’s family, which was imprisoned in Yodok concentration camp from 1977 to 1987. Kang defected to the West in 1992.

Book was published in 2000 and translated into English the following year. It made it onto Time’s list of 100 best books in 2002.

Pic takes the viewpoint of a foreign observer who experiences the inhuman conditions of the camp and witnesses the affection of family and friendship among the prisoners.

Producers are South Korea’s Richie Shim of Cinema & I and U.S.’s Kevin Cooper from Amarok Prods.. Pair expects to raise the $18 million budget from Korea and U.S.

Producers are finalizing a director and cast. Lensing is skedded to get under way in October for release in July 2009.

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