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Park Chan-wook
South Korean film director, screenwriter and film producer

Park Chan-wook

Park Chan-wook
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro South Korean film director, screenwriter and film producer
A.K.A. 박찬욱, Chan-wook Park, Park Chan-uk
Is Screenwriter Film director Film producer
From South Korea
Field Film, TV, Stage & Radio
Gender male
Birth 23 August 1963, Seoul
Age 58 years
The details (from wikipedia)


Park Chan-wook (Hangul: 박찬욱 Korean pronunciation: [pak̚t͡ɕʰanuk̚ ]; born August 23, 1963) is a South Korean film director, screenwriter, producer, and former film critic. One of the most acclaimed and popular filmmakers in his native country, Park is most known for his films Joint Security Area, Thirst and what has become known as The Vengeance Trilogy, consisting of 2002's Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, 2003's Oldboy and 2005's Lady Vengeance. His films are noted for their immaculate framing, black humor and often brutal subject matter.

Life and career

Park was born and raised in Seoul, and studied philosophy at Sogang University, where he started a cinema-club called the "Sogang Film Community" and published a number of articles on contemporary cinema. Originally intending to be an art critic, upon seeing Vertigo he resolved to try to become a filmmaker. After graduation, he wrote articles on film for journals, and soon became an assistant director of films like Kkamdong, directed by Yu Yeong-jin, and Watercolor painting in a Rainy Day, directed by Kwak Jae-yong (My Sassy Girl).

His debut feature film was The Moon Is... the Sun's Dream (1992), and after five years, he made his second film Trio. Park's early films were not successful at the box office, and he pursued a career as a film critic to make a living.

In 2000, Park directed Joint Security Area, which was a great success both commercially and critically, even surpassing Kang Je-gyu's Shiri as the most-watched film ever made in South Korea. This success made it possible for him to make his next film more independently - Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance is the result of this creative freedom.

After winning the Grand Prix at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival for the film Oldboy, a journalist asked, "in your film, why is the vengeance repeating?". According to Park, he decided to make three consecutive films with revenge as the central theme. Park said his films are about the utter futility of vengeance and how it wreaks havoc on the lives of everyone involved.

Blu-ray box set of The Vengeance Trilogy.

In a May 2004 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Park listed Sophocles, Shakespeare, Kafka, Dostoevsky, Balzac, and Kurt Vonnegut as being influences on his career.

His so-called Vengeance Trilogy consists of Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy and Lady Vengeance. It was not originally intended to be a trilogy. Lady Vengeance was distributed by Tartan Films for American theatrical release in April 2006.

Despite extreme violence in his films, Park is regarded as one of the most popular film directors in Korea, with three of his last five feature films (Joint Security Area, Oldboy and Lady Vengeance) all drawing audiences of over 3 million. This makes Park the director of three films in the thirty all-time highest-grossing films in South Korea. (9th, 29th, 26th respectively as of January 2007).

In addition to being a film director and screenwriter, Park is also a film critic with several published editions to his name. None have been translated into English as of yet.

American director Quentin Tarantino is an avowed fan of Park. As the head judge at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival, he personally pushed for Park's Oldboy to be awarded the Palme d'Or (the honor eventually went to Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11). Oldboy garnered the Grand Prix, the second-highest honor in the competition. Tarantino also regards Park's Joint Security Area to be one of "the top twenty films made since 1992."

In 2006, he was the member of official section jury at the 63rd Venice International Film Festival.

In February 2007, Park won the Alfred Bauer Prize at the 57th Berlin International Film Festival. The award, named after the festival's founder and in praise of movies opening up new perspectives, went to Park for his film, I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK.

In 2009, Park directed his first vampire film, Thirst starring Song Kang-ho which won Prix du Jury along with Fish Tank, directed by Andrea Arnold at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. He considered directing Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy but ultimately turned it down.

In 2011, Park said his new fantasy-horror film Paranmanjang (Night Fishing) was shot entirely on the iPhone. The film was co-directed with Park's younger brother, Park Chan-kyong who never had any experience on film directing. It was nominated for Berlinale Shorts during the 2011 Berlin Film Festival, which won Golden Bear for Best Short Film.

In 2013, Park directed his first English-language film, Stoker. He said he learned to accelerate the production process and completed filming in 480 hours. Although Park does speak English, he used an interpreter on set. On why the script attracted his attention, Park said: "It wasn't a script that tried to explain everything and left many things as questions, so it leads the audience to find answers for themselves and that's what I liked about the script... I like telling big stories through small, artificially created worlds." On March 2, 2013, Park appeared on a panel discussion about the movie Stoker, held at the Freer Gallery of Art in the Smithsonian's Museums of Asian Art.

In 2014, Park directed a short film commissioned by luxury brand Ermenegildo Zegna, co-written by himself, Ayako Fujitani, Chung Chung-hoon and Michael Werwie, scored by Clint Mansell, and starring Jack Huston and Daniel Wu, and which previously screened at the Rome International Film Festival and the Busan International Film Festival.

In September 2014, it was announced that Park would adapt Fingersmith, a historical crime novel by Sarah Waters. The film entered production in mid 2015 and ended on October 31, 2015. That film ended up becoming The Handmaiden and premiered in competition to rave reviews at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, where Artistic Director Seong-hie Ryu won the Vulcain Prize for the Technical Arts and also where it got nominated for both the Palme d'Or and Queer Palm; the film also won Best New Actress (Tae-ri Kim), The Buil Readers' Jury Award and Best Art Directin (Seong-hie Ryu) at the 2016 Buil Film Awards.

In October 2014, it was announced that Park had signed on to direct the sci-fi body-swap film, Second Born.



Year Film Credited as
Director Writer Producer
1992 The Moon Is... the Sun's Dream Yes Yes No
1997 Trio Yes Yes No
2000 Anarchists No Yes No
Joint Security Area Yes Yes No
2001 The Humanist No Yes No
2002 Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance Yes Yes No
A Bizarre Love Triangle No Yes No
2003 Oldboy Yes Yes No
2005 Lady Vengeance Yes Yes No
Boy Goes to Heaven No Yes No
2006 I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK Yes Yes Yes
2008 Crush and Blush No Yes Yes
2009 Thirst Yes Yes Yes
2013 Stoker Yes No No
Snowpiercer No No Yes
2016 The Handmaiden Yes Yes Yes
Second Born Yes No No

Short film

Year Film Credited as
Director Writer Producer
1999 Judgment Yes Yes Yes
2003 If You Were Me (segment "Never Ending Peace And Love") Yes Yes No
2004 Three... Extremes (segment "Cut") Yes Yes No
2011 Night Fishing Yes* Yes Yes
60 Seconds of Solitude in Year Zero (segment) Yes Yes No
2013 Day Trip Yes* Yes No
V (music video for Lee Jung-hyun) Yes* Yes No
2014 A Rose Reborn Yes Yes No

* Directed with his brother Park Chan-kyong


Year Event Award Film
2001 Deauville Asian Film Festival Lotus Award for Best Film Joint Security Area
Seattle International Film Festival New Director's Showcase Special Jury Prize Joint Security Area
2002 Blue Ribbon Awards, Japan Best Foreign Language Film Joint Security Area
Seattle International Film Festival Emerging Masters Showcase Award
2003 Fantasia Festival, Montreal Best Asian Film Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance
Philadelphia Film Festival Jury Award for Best Feature Film Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance
2004 Cannes Film Festival Grand Prix Oldboy
Asia Pacific Film Festival Best Director Oldboy
Bergen International Film Festival Audience Award Oldboy
Grand Bell Awards, South Korea Best Director Oldboy
Sitges Catalonian International Film Festival Best Film Oldboy
Stockholm International Film Festival Audience Award Oldboy
2005 Bangkok International Film Festival Golden Kinnaree Award for Best Director Oldboy
Venice Film Festival CinemAvvenire Award Lady Vengeance
2006 Bangkok International Film Festival Golden Kinnaree Award for Best Director Lady Vengeance
Fantasporto, Portugal Orient Express Section Grand Prize for Best Film Lady Vengeance
Sarasota Film Festival Audience Award for Best in World Cinema Lady Vengeance
2007 Berlin International Film Festival Alfred Bauer Award I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK
Montréal Festival of New Cinema Z Tele Grand Prize Feature Film Award I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK
Sitges Catalonian International Film Festival Best Screenplay I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK
2008 Fantasporto, Portugal International Fantasy Film Award - Special Mention I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK
2009 Cannes Film Festival Jury Prize Thirst
2011 Berlin Film Festival Golden Bear for Best Short Film Night Fishing
2017 KOFRA Film Awards Film Industry Figure of the Year The Handmaiden

Recurring cast in Park Chan-wook's films

Actor Joint Security Area Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance Oldboy Cut Lady Vengeance I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK Thirst
Song Kang-ho YesY YesY YesY YesY
Shin Ha-kyun YesY YesY YesY YesY
Choi Min-sik YesY YesY
Yoo Ji-tae YesY YesY
Lee Young-ae YesY YesY
Lee Byung-hun YesY YesY
Kang Hye-jung YesY YesY YesY
Kim Byeong-ok YesY YesY YesY
Oh Dal-su YesY YesY YesY YesY

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