After censorship was eliminated in 1996, a new breed of writer-directors created a canon of internationally provocative and visually stunning genre-bending hit films, and new and established producers infused unprecedented venture capital into the local industry. Today, a bevy of key producers, including vertically integrated Korean conglomerates, maintain dominance over the film industry while engaging in a variety of relatively near-transparent domestic and international expansion strategies. Backing hits at home as well as collaborating with filmmakers in China and Hollywood have become priorities. In stark contrast to the way in which the film business is conducted today is Korean cinema’s Golden Age of the 1960s – an important but little-known period of rapid industrialization, high productivity and clandestine practices. To develop a fuller understanding of the development of Korean cinema, this article investigates the complex interplay between film policy and production during the 1960s under authoritarian President Park Chung Hee, whose government’s unfolding censorship regime forced film producers to develop a range of survival strategies. A small but powerful cartel of producers formed alliances with a larger cohort of quasi-illegal independent producers, thus – against all the odds – enabling Korean cinema to achieve a golden age of productivity. An analysis of the tactics adopted by the industry reveals the ways in which producers negotiated policy demands and contributed to an industry “boom” – the likes of which were not seen again until the late 1990s.