Tcha Seung-jai, co-president of Korea’s most prolific production company Sidus FNH, is considered one of the industry’s most influential figures, even in an off-year.

Named as head of the Korea Film Producers Assn. in January, he was instrumental in hammering out Korea’s first film labor deal, which went into effect July 1.

His company, meanwhile, is preparing its debut as an independent distributor. With backing from a major telco (the firm is co-owned by KT and its mobile arm KHT), the company will release its first title in autumn, romantic comedy “Yonguijudo Miss Shin.”

Apart from its own films, which in the past have provided top distributors CJ Entertainment and Showbox some of its strongest product, the company says it is open to handling outside product too.

Tcha’s filmography as head of Sidus and its predecessor Uno Films includes many of the classics of modern-day Korean cinema, such as “Christmas in August” (1998), “Musa” (2001), “Memories of Murder” (2003) and “Tazza” (2006). (It also produced its share of expensive flops, such as “Antarctic Journal” and Korea-Japan co-production “Rikidozan.”)

A merger with Kim Mi-hee’s production house Fun & Happiness in 2005 made it an undisputed market leader, and Sidus FNH released no fewer than 12 films in 2006. Tcha is known to provide his directors with a significant degree of freedom, but he has also put in place a system to ensure quality — for example, it was the first production company in Korea to hire a dedicated post-production specialist to oversee all its films.

This year has seen fewer releases: Comedy “Hometown Rivals” grossed $8.7 million on its March release, while “Femme Fatal,” a remake of French comedy “Serial Lover” (1998), failed to stir much interest in August.

But many more projects are on the way, such as “Radio Days,” set in 1930s Korea, and the hotly anticipated “Tazza 2,” to be helmed by “Save the Green Planet” prodigy Jang Jung-hwan.