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Movie spurs books on 16th-century Korean admiral

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

SEOUL, Aug. 5 (Yonhap) -- Publishers have recently released a number of new books about Yi Sun-shin, a legendary Korean war hero from the 16th century, anticipating that a current box-office hit about the hero would spark a boom of such books.

Released on Wednesday, "Roaring Currents," starring veteran actor Choi Min-shik has set various local box-office records. It became the most-attended movie on an opening day, on a business day and on a single day. It also passed the 2 million, 3 million, 4 million and 5 million marks in the fastest time in history.

On Tuesday, the seventh day of opening, the historical action flick surpassed the 6 million viewer mark, according to the movie's investor-distributor, CJ Entertainment.

It currently sits on top of the official monthly box-office rankings released by the Korean Film Council, with the animated Hollywood movie, "How to Train Your Dragon 2," in a distant second place.

"Roaring Currents" depicts Admiral Yi's astonishing victory in the historical Battle of Myeongnyang against Japan in which he conquered more than 300 Japanese ships with only 12 vessels in 1597.

The film's popularity is already affecting the local book industry, shedding new light on the legendary hero from the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910).

Timed with the movie's release, publishers put out dozens of new sorts of books and republished best-selling novels about him such as "The Immortal Yi Sun-shin" by Kim Tak-hwan and "Song of the Sword" by Kim Hoon.

According to Kyobo Book Centre, South Korea's leading bookstore chain, there are about 150 sorts of books about the hero in the country and 1,705 copies of them were sold in the first seven months of this year, up 54 percent from the same period last year.

The increase is small yet, but Kyobo has expectations that the film's success could help further push up sales of related books.

"Books about Yi are generally popular among Koreans, so we're considering holding a special sales event for such books," said Jin Yeong-gyun, a public relations official of Kyobo.

Publishers were busy with handling a flood of orders from stores for books about Yi.

Munhakdongne Publishing Group, which published "Song of the Sword," says it released some 700 copies of the book on Monday alone, a seven-fold increase from the daily average of 100 before the film's release.

"We're now controlling the amount of delivery due to shortage of books in stock," an official with the publisher said.

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