Korea’s 1st Movie Theater BankruptSeptember 25, 2008 at 3:40 pm | Posted in Movies | 1 Comment
The 101-year-old Dansungsa, one of the first Korean movie theaters, was declared bankrupt Tuesday. The Seoul theater, following years of dwindling profit and amassing debt, was unable to pay back 1.5 billion won, Woori Bank announced Wednesday.
Movie screenings however will continue under the theater brand Cinus, for Dansungsa will only give up ownership of the building in Jongno. Also, considering its historical significance, the Dansungsa billboard will remain intact. Founded in 1907, Dansungsa embodies the century-old history of Korean cinema. It renovated its one-screen theater into a 10-screen multiplex between 2001 and 2005 and became part of the Cinus chain this year in April.
But the reconstruction was costly, and Dansungsa fell behind the competition against other large multiplex theaters such as CGV, Megabox and Lotte Cinema. Last year it reportedly lost 11 billion won and income was down to a meager 4.4 billion won, nearly half of the 7.8 billion in sales for 2006.
Dansungsa marked many significant events in local cinema. It screened the first Korean-produced film “Fight for Justice” in 1919 as well as the earliest local sound movie “The Story of Chun-hyang” in 1935. The franchise is also noted for producing the first “purely Korean” project, “The Story of Jang-hwa and Hong-ryeon” (directed by Park Jung-hyun, 1924), the first Korean-made, Korean-funded work during the Japanese colonial period (1910-45).