1st art-house theater in Korea to close

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1st art-house theater in Korea to close

CineCode Sonje, a major art-house theater in Korea, will close its doors on the last day of November.

The news came as quite a surprise to local movie fans because the art-house cinema, which was established in 2008 and served as a landmark in Samcheong-dong, central Seoul, abruptly announced the news on Oct. 25 through its official website.

“CineCode Sonje, which had been sharing precious times with visitors to Bukchon, will have to say our last good bye on Nov. 30, 2015,” read the post, which was co-written by CineCode Sonje and JinJin Pictures, the theater’s operator.

“There have been numerous discussions about remodeling the building with its owner, Art Sonje Center, but ultimately, our rental contract with the building owner has expired,” the post continued.

Aside from the rental issue, CineCode Sonje, which was formerly a Dongsoong Cinematheque and Korea’s first art-house theater, had been going through severe financial struggles, sitting on accumulated debt reported to total 900 million won ($777,000).

Industry insiders point out that the closure of CineCode Sonje, one of the top four art-house theaters in Seoul, along with CineCube, Arthouse MoMo and Art Nine, is the inevitable result of the evolving movie industry, which is dominated by conglomerate-owned multiplex chains.

The theater today kicked off a special exhibition, which will be its last, on Taiwan-based virtuoso Hou Hsia-Hsien. It will run through Nov. 18.

BY JIN EUN-SOO [jin.eunsoo@joongang.co.kr]

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