Pusan fest shocked by Choi death

Kim Dong-ho expressed condolences at opening ceremony

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BUSAN, South Korea -- The apparent suicide Thursday of Korean actress Choi Jin-shil started the 13th Pusan International Film Festival off on a gloomy note.

At Thursday's opening ceremony, festival director Kim Dong-ho expressed condolences from the "festival family."

The news immediately disrupted Pusan plans. Some entertainment reporters scheduled to be at the press screening of the opening-night film "The Gift to Stalin" either canceled their trips at the last minute or hurried back to Seoul by early afternoon.

The festival was expecting more than 100 local celebrities for the red-carpet event during Thursday night's opening ceremony and no cancellations were reported, according to a festival staff.

"We've been closely watching the attendance of our guest list after the news broke out in the morning, but none of them has reported to us their cancellation plans so far," a festival staffer from the invitation team said.

Choi, 40, had nourished unparalleled fame in the local entertainment world since her TV debut in 1988, with her cutesy image earning her the nickname "Korea's Meg Ryan." In the '90s, she starred in several domestic movies, including such hits as "Ghost Mama" and "My Love, My Bride."

In 2000, she married Korean baseball player Cho Sang-min. They divorced four years later.

Festival officials said no event has been scheduled yet to commemorate the late actress.