Koreans crown ‘Clown’ B.O. ruler

'King' is biggest selling South Korean pic of all time

SEOUL — “King and the Clown,” a gay-themed, period morality tale, crossed the 11.74 million ticket sales mark on Sunday to become the biggest selling South Korean film of all time.

Pic, directed by Lee Joon-ik, was released on 250 prints in late December and took only 67 days to pass the mark previously set by 2004 war movie “Tae guk gi.” Handled by CJ Entertainment, “King” release was later widened to more than 400 venues.

Pic’s B.O. triumph has also reinvigorated the stage play, “Yi,” from which it was adapted and kept Korean cinema turnstiles whirring.

Underlying events involving a Chosun dynasty King Yonsan, his concubine and a moralizing court jester are historical, though both legit and movie versions are fictionalized. “Yi” ran an extra two months in Seoul, and a musical version is expected to preem in October. Market share held by Korean movies topped 77% in January and 67% in February.

The success of “King” is all the more remarkable given that it was made on a relatively low budget of $4.5 million and boasts no mainstream star names. Total means that more than one in four people in the country have seen the pic.