It’s not often that a little-known British movie has its world premiere in South Korea.

That the pic in question, John Hay‘s “The Truth About Love,” bowed at No. 1 at the box office and beat fellow debutante “The Interpreter” is the bigger surprise.

But that’s exactly what happened last week, when the Jennifer Love Hewitt/Dougray Scott romantic comedy took on the might of Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn, and won, with 162,000 admissions vs. 139,000 for “The Interpreter.”

That’s a remarkable validation for first-time producer Tracey Adams, after the project was nearly killed by the U.K. government’s notorious tax clampdown of 2004. She lost a third of her budget just weeks before the cameras rolled, and risked bankruptcy to keep the movie alive.

Lakeshore Intl. has sold the movie to about 40 territories, though it still doesn’t have a distrib in the U.K. or in the States. But Korean distrib Tube was eager to release it as soon as possible, to capitalize on Love Hewitt’s big following in the territory.