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'Minari' leads 77.5% jump at S. Korean box office in March

A digital poster of
A digital poster of "Minari" is on display at a theater in Seoul on March 7, 2021. (Yonhap)
The South Korean box office jumped nearly 78 percent in March from a year earlier on the back of the strong performance of Oscar-nominated "Minari," data showed Friday.

The number of moviegoers reached 3.26 million last month, up 77.5 percent from 1.83 million tallied in the same month last year, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the film industry at its early stage, according to the data compiled by the Korean Film Council (KOFIC).

From a month earlier, the March figure gained 4.7 percent, or 140,000.

Box office revenue nearly doubled to 30.2 billion won ($27 million) in March from 15.2 billion won previous year.

In January and February, the local box office posted a 89 percent and 58 percent on-year plunge in the number of monthly moviegoers, respectively.

The March turnaround came as the immigration film "Minari," released on March 3, managed to attract South Koreans to movie theaters, with no big-name Korean titles on screens.

The film, directed and written by Korean-American Lee Isaac Chung based on his childhood memory, has been in the media spotlight in South Korea as Korean actresses Youn Yuh-jung and Han Yeri participated in the project by Korean American filmmakers including director Lee, producer Christina Oh and actor Steven Yeun.

It had topped the South Korean box office for three weeks since its release, driven by its award-winning streak in the leadup to the Oscars, including the best foreign language film prize at the Golden Globe Awards and its six Academy nominations, including best picture and best supporting actress for Youn, last month.

"Minari" has drawn a total of 900,000 people through Thursday.

For the first three months of 2021, a total of 8.15 million people went to theaters, down 68.7 percent on-year from 26.05 million over the same period previous year, showed the KOFIC data. (Yonhap)