First US, Korean co-production in Seoul

'Hanji Box' is first project from Cost Program

Actress Amy Irving is coming to Seoul to star alongside Baek Yoon-shik (“The President’s Last Bang”) and Kim Yoon-jin (ABC’s “Lost”) in “Hanji Box,” the first U.S.-Korean co-production to shoot on Korean soil.

The independent feature by Vermont-based filmmaker Nora Jacobson (“Nothing Like Dreaming”) is inspired by a true story about an American woman who travels to Seoul in hopes of better understanding her estranged daughter, a Korean adoptee.

While there, she becomes taken with the work of a Korean painter (Baek), and eventually meets and falls in love with him.

Budgeted under $5 million, the film will shoot 80% in Seoul for five weeks in April and May next year. It is expected to become the first project to benefit from the Seoul Film Commission’s recently established Production Cost Support Program, which refunds 25% of in-country spending and covers travel and accommodation costs for location scouting.

The production has already signed on award-winning production designer Cho Keun-hyun (“A Tale of Two Sisters”), and is expected to work with a mostly Korean crew. Painter and Hongik U. professor Moon Bong-seon has agreed to supply the artwork that plays a central role in the narrative.

Producer Jane Applegate of Fire Circle Films says the project has enjoyed an enthusiastic response on both sides of the Pacific.

“Our most recent trip to Seoul has been very reassuring. There are tremendous resources and talent available here, and the Seoul Film Commission has given us great advice and support from the very beginning.”

Jacobson cast Irving after seeing her perform on Broadway in Tom Stoppard’s trilogy “The Coast of Utopia.”

“Amy was already familiar with Korea to a certain extent since her son (a videogame developer) spent three months in Seoul and raved about the experience,” said Jacobson.

Co-producer Amy Lo has a slate full of meetings at this year’s Asian Film Market with potential investors and distributors on the Korean side. “(This is) a classic love story, but also a film about a mother-daughter relationship and the issues raised by adoption,” she said.