Cinemas in South Korea - Statistics & Facts

2019 was a good year for South Korean cinemas: the number of cinema admissions was at around 227 million, while the box office revenue in South Korea amounted to around 1.9 trillion South Korean won. Around half of that was made with movies from South Korea, closely followed by movies originating in the United States. The highest grossing movie that year was Extreme Job with around 139.7 billion won in revenue, closely followed by Avengers: Endgame with around 122.2 billion won in revenue and Frozen 2 with a revenue of around 111.6 billion won. Extreme Job is currently the highest grossing movie of all time in South Korea, meanwhile Avengers: Endgame was a worldwide phenomenon.

As of March 2020, around 100 cinemas were operating in South Koreas capital Seoul with a total of almost 600 movie screens. Nearly all cinemas in South Korea are multiplex theaters operated by one of three large cinema chains: Around half of the market is led by CGV, which is a subsidiary of CJ Corporation, followed by Lotte Cinema and Megabox. Only around 2.8 percent of ticket sales are not connected to one of these chains.

These days, the South Korean film industry is evolving, and its global success is growing. After years of censorship, both during the Japanese occupation and during Park Chung-hee’s authoritarian regime, a wave of “New Korean Cinema” developed right after the Asian financial crisis of 1997. One of South Korea’s first blockbusters was Shiri in 1999, a movie about a North Korean spy in Seoul, selling more than two million tickets in Seoul alone, a record number of that time. Thanks to Hallyu, the Korean culture wave, the success of South Korean movies grew beyond the country’s borders. In 2019, Parasite by Bong Joon-ho became the first South Korean film to win the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

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Cinemas in South Korea

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Domestic movies

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