HONG KONG — Soma Chung has ankled as CEO of Korea Pictures, an upscale production/distribution outfit that defined the rise of South Korean cinema in the past five years. He is launching shingle the Core Studio.
Chung takes with him two other Korea Pictures alumni, Cho Eun-Jun and Jay Kim, both previously on the international side.
A fourth KP staffer, Nahie Kim, is quitting to join the Pusan film fest.
Although Chung is the second high-level departure from Korea Pictures in two years (D.J. Kim left in 2003 to set up Show East), the separation is said to be amicable. Chung might have ongoing involvement with the releases of Korea Pictures’ highest-profile pics of the year, “Duelist” and “Cheungyeon.”
At Korea Pictures, board member Kim Jae-Young becomes prexy. Luna Kim takes over as head of sales.
With Core, Chung aims to replicate the Korea Pictures business model, which spans investment, production, distribution and international sales. Emphasis will be placed on larger-budget titles, and Chung is putting together a stable of satellite production companies and long-term financiers.
Looking beyond borders
“The domestic Korean market is of course important, but we are looking to make films with an Asian appeal. Co-production is going to be an important part of the way we work,” said Cho.
Plans are to produce up to eight Korean films a year and to acquire a couple of foreign tentpoles for local distribution.
Shingle starts out with two projects in different stages of production. First up is crime thriller “Secret Garden,” directed by Im Kyung-Soo, and starring Kim Yoon-jin (“Shiri”), Shin Eun-kyung (“My Wife Is a Gangster”) and former singer Eric Moon. Pic, being produced through Sevenon Pictures and Able Film, is exec produced by Chung and was previously set up at Korea Pictures. It is skedded for release in November, with local distribution handled by Showbox and foreign sales by Core Studio.
Company also is readying “Yoga Class,” a horror pic to be directed by Yoon Jae-Yeon.
It is prepping currently untitled efforts by Lee Myung-Se (“Duelist”), Yoon (“Wishing Stairs”) and Kim Kyungh-Yung (“My Tutor Friend”).
Core may make its sales debut at Toronto, but has booked booths at both the Pusan festival’s mart and at November’s AFM.
Chung had been with Korea Pictures since its founding eight years ago and was its CEO for the last two. However, he had no equity stake in the company, which is controlled by a fund management group, and is keen to run his own shingle.