Director Lee Joon-ik, who stepped into the spotlight with the 2005 blockbuster "The King and the Clown," has announced his retirement from the commercial movie industry following the discouraging box-office results of his latest film, "Pyongyang Castle."
With a total cost of W8 billion (US$1=W1,127) including a production cost of W5.7 billion, the new movie failed to sell the 2.5 million tickets needed to break even.
In a Twitter message on Saturday, Lee said that "Pyongyang Castle" attracted a mere 1.7 million viewers and that he has decided to leave the commercial film industry.
After the smash success of "The King and the Clown," which drew some 12.3 million viewers to become Korea's second-highest grossing film of all time, he has struggled with a string of flops such as "Sunny" (2008) and "Blades of Blood" (2010).
Sources close to Lee said that he will probably venture into making small-budget art films, or lecture or mentor young directors from now on.
The 52-year-old director is currently in Mongolia producing a TV program.