Seoul cinema will close permanently at the end of August
“Seoul Cinema, which has been a beloved cultural hub of Jongno-gu for over 40 years, will close permanently on August 31, 2021,” cinema operator Hapdong Film said in a statement.
The operator added that it is currently preparing to make changes, but has not announced specific plans for how the facility will be used in the future.
Founded in 1964, Hapdong Film was a film production company. The company acquired the Segi Theater in Jongno-gu, Seoul in 1978 and changed its name to The Seoul Cinema before reopening it the following year.
The Seoul Cinema, which started with a screen at the time, has grown considerably and became Korea’s first multiplex in 1989. It currently has over 10 screens.
The main reason for Seoul Cinema’s permanent closure is the severe financial difficulties it has faced since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, according to local media.
Korean cinemas have been hit by a series of strict social distancing measures that have been applied to prevent the spread of COVID-19 from last year. The number of movie theater closures peaked in 12 years in 2020 at 81 following the coronavirus outbreak, according to Home and Security Ministry data from January.
In addition, 2020 saw the number of people who visited theaters drop 74% from the previous year, the lowest since the Korean Film Council began compiling box office data in 2004.
Even before the pandemic, The Seoul Cinema had encountered financial difficulties, losing market share to conglomerates such as CGV and Lotte Cinema which began to expand in the 2000s.
In recent years, The Seoul Cinema has focused on showing art and independent films. Small film festivals, including the Directed Short Film Festival and the Seoul Eco Film Festival, also took place at the Seoul Cinema. However, this did not prove to be enough to improve his financial situation.
The Seoul Cinema is one of several private cinemas in Jongno-gu, central Seoul, to be closed. Another private Dansungsa cinema, created in 1907, also had to close its doors in 2006, unable to compete with the rise of multiplexes.
By Song Seung-hyun ([email protected])