South Korean actor Choi Min-shik has returned a cultural award after the country's government reduced the amount of homegrown movies which must be shown in cinemas.

OLD BOY star Min-Shik was horrified to learn ministers in Seoul had cut the quota of domestic movie showings from 146 to 73 days a year, after talks with the United States over the possible establishment of a Free Trade Agreement.

At part of the subsequently agreed conditions, the United States demanded South Korea let more international, and specifically US films, into the Asian country's cinemas.

In protest outside the culture ministry in Seoul this week (begs06FEB06), Min-Shik returned his Okgwan Order of Culture Merit.

He fumed, "The medal of the government that has trampled on its own cultural sovereignty has no longer any value. So I'm returning it. Without the screen quota, there would have existed no Old Boy."