• Kyodo

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The Japanese animated movie “Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi” (“Spirited Away”) is having a successful run in South Korea.

Since opening June 28, the film has been seen by 1.1 million Koreans.

The film, directed by Hayao Miyazaki and a huge hit in Japan, tells the story of a young girl who finds herself working in a hot-springs resort that caters to spirits and gods. It is the first animated film to win the Golden Bear prize at the Berlin Film Festival.

Over the summer vacation season, the movie is expected to top the record attendance figure of 1.2 million achieved by Shunji Iwai’s “Love Letter.”

“Love Letter” is the most popular Japanese movie to be released in South Korea since Seoul eased its ban on imports of Japanese popular culture in 1998 and allowed the screening of Japanese movies.

Critics attribute the success of “Spirited Away” partly to a surge of interest among South Koreans about things Japanese after the two countries cohosted the World Cup soccer tournament.

Another reason for the movie’s success, they add, is that South Korean authorities, who in the past looked the other way when faced with pirated foreign films, have recently cracked down on the black market, effectively boosting cinema attendance figures.

However, not all Japanese films have been well-received in South Korea.

This year, “Hotaru,” a drama about the horrors of war seen through eyes of Japanese suicide bombers who survived World War II, and the action movie “Seoul” were pulled from screens after only one week.

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