The first public screening in history took place in 1895 in Paris. In a couple of years, cinematography spreads worldwide — most major capitals held screenings as well. Korea was an exception. Although the Koreans saw their first film in 1903, the actual spread of cinematography began only with Japanese colonisation, which started in 1910. Cinemas were under Japanese control. They played only foreign movies, and the colonisers always collected the whole income. It took nine years to produce and release the first Korean-directed film. Though there wasn't much progress later: film production was limited by strict censorship for decades. Moral standards were strict as elsewhere; every film must have been politically correct regarding Japanese governance. The allowed genres were drama, melodrama and action. The formation of Korean cinema lingered, but its rise was yet to come.
With slight mitigation of censorship in the early eighties, the first half of the decade promised to be productive for the industry. Independent cinema had finally got some legal support — it used to be somewhat in the grey area before. The late 80s were marked with some reformations: the government decreased restrictions on screenings of foreign films. It broadened the industry's horizons, but it also caused a huge competition between national cinema and foreign products. Hollywood was winning the battle. South Korean films lost many viewers, and the market faced great losses — it was clearly a step back.