Cinematic shuffle

Co-chiefs Kang, Kim exit Korean powerhouse

SEOUL — Kang Woo-suk and “Michael” Kim Jung-sang, the co-toppers of South Korean major Cinema Service, have ankled from the company that Kang founded in 1993.

Kang will continue to own the majority of the company’s shares, but he will no longer play an active role in its management. Helmer Kang (“Silmido,” “Public Enemy”) will return full time to directing.

Cinema Service veep Kim In-soo will step up to the prexy post.

Longtime Kang associate Kim Sang-jin (“Attack the Gas Station”), who founded the Fun & Happiness production shingle, and helmer Jang Joon-hyun (“Tell Me Something”) become veeps.

Formed as Kang Woo-suk Prods., the company diversified with moves into film investment and distribution.

By 2001, it had become Korea’s leading theatrical distrib. Although the company enjoyed massive distribution power, claiming a 19% share of the Korean B.O. as recently as the first quarter of this year, its recent moves have been toward retrenchment.

In 2003, it sold hardtop chain Plenus to arch rival CJ Entertainment. Last month, it sold its 70-title library and merged its international sales arm with that of CJ.

“From the beginning our intention was that Cinema Service would be a breeding ground for young directors and upcoming talent,” Michael Kim said. “We have held that role for five years. If we really believe in the next generation, now is the time to pass the baton.”

Kim said he is quitting the entertainment industry to pursue projects in other business sectors.

Frequently dubbed “the most powerful man in the film industry” by Korean trade papers, Kang has never failed to attract controversy. This week, Cinema Service won a court case that had alleged Kang illicitly based blockbuster “Silmido” on a real person’s life.

Earlier this month, Kang was involved in an industrywide row about the wage demands of local stars and power of talent agencies, and was forced to apologize to Song Kang-ho and Choi Min-shik, star of Cinema Service-produced “Chiwaseon.”

Kang is reported to have said that the star salary spat and his return to filmmaking are not connected.

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