The Throne,” a period drama directed by actor-director Lee Joon-ik, has been selected by South Korea as its contender for the foreign-language Academy Award race.

The film (previously called “Sado”) tells the brutal tale of a prince who was deemed unfit to rule and was locked in a rice chest by his father. It stars Song Kang-ho and Yoo Ah-in.

The selection decision by a special committee of the Korean Film Council (Kofic) comes ahead of the film’s commercial release, set for later this month through Showbox. All films in the category are required to have screened for at least a week before the submissions deadline at the end of September.

Lee’s “The King and the Clown” was previously South Korea’s contender for the 2006 Awards.

“Despite ‘The Throne’ being a historical feature, it received high praise by the committee as the direction was truly sophisticated so that even foreign audiences would not find the story difficult to understand,” said KOFIC in a statement.

In the past 20 years South Korea has become one of the most influential filmmaking nations, with films and directors regularly winning festival prizes, and its intellectual property frequently plundered for remakes. Similarly, its TV dramas and pop music have gone global, helping Korean entertainment companies to become some of the most powerful in Asia. But to date not a single Korean film has received an Oscar nomination in the foreign-language category.

Critics suggest that Korean storytelling may be too brash or too bleak for Oscar selectors’ tastes. Last year South Korea selected Shim Sung-bo’s noir drama “Sea Fog” (aka “Haemoo”) as contender.

The deadline to submit entries for the foreign-language race is Oct. 1, the nominations will be announced Jan. 14 and the Oscar ceremony takes place Feb. 28 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.