The Face Reader

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The Face Reader
The Face Reader poster.jpg
Revised Romanization Gwansang
McCune–Reischauer Kwansang
Directed by Han Jae-rim
Produced by Kim Woo-jae
Yu Jeong-hun
Ju Pil-ho
Written by Kim Dong-hyuk
Starring Song Kang-ho
Lee Jung-jae
Baek Yoon-sik
Jo Jung-suk
Lee Jong-suk
Kim Hye-soo
Music by Lee Byung-woo
Cinematography Go Nak-seon
Editing by Kim Chang-ju
Distributed by Showbox Mediaplex (South Korea)
Pan Media and Entertainment (United States)
Dreamwest Pictures (United States)
Release dates
  • September 11, 2013 (2013-09-11) (South Korea)
  • October 4, 2013 (2013-10-04) (United States)
Running time 139 minutes
Country South Korea
Language Korean

The Face Reader (Hangul: 관상; RR: Gwansang; lit. "Physiognomy") is a 2013 South Korean film starring Song Kang-ho as the son of a disgraced noble family who goes around Joseon and studies physiognomy. He is able to assess the personality, mental state and habits of a person by looking at his or her face. His talents bring him to the royal courts where he becomes involved in a power struggle between Grand Prince Suyang and general Kim Jongseo, a high-ranking loyalist to King Munjong.[1][2][3]

The Face Reader became one of the highest-grossing films in South Korea in 2013, with 9.1 million admissions. It won six awards at the 50th Grand Bell Awards, including Best Film, Best Director for Han Jae-rim, and Best Actor for Song Kang-ho.[4][5]


Nae-gyeong, the most skillful face reader in Joseon dynasty, was living in seclusion when he was offered a lucrative partnership by Yeon-hong, a gisaeng. Nae-gyeong accepts the proposal to read the faces of Yeon-hong’s guests only to get involved in a murder case. With his face reading skills, Nae-gyeong successfully identifies the murderer and his skills are soon acknowledged by King Munjong who orders him to identify the potential traitors who threaten his reign. However after the unexpected death of Munjong, Nae-gyeong is courted by Grand Prince Suyang who yearns to become King himself by killing the young successor Danjong. Nae-gyeong decides to keep his loyalty to the late King and help Kim Jongseo protect the young King which forces him into the biggest power struggle in the history of the Joseon dynasty.



Kim Dong-hyuk's screenplay won the grand prize at the 2010 Korean Scenario Contest held by the Korean Film Council.[6]

Awards and nominations[edit]

2013 50th Grand Bell Awards

  • Best Film
  • Best Director: Han Jae-rim
  • Best Actor: Song Kang-ho
  • Best Supporting Actor: Jo Jung-suk
  • Best Costume Design: Shim Hyun-sub
  • Popularity Award: Lee Jung-jae
  • Nomination - Best Supporting Actor: Baek Yoon-sik
  • Nomination - Best Screenplay: Kim Dong-hyuk
  • Nomination - Best Cinematography: Go Nak-seon
  • Nomination - Best Art Direction: Lee Ha-jun

2013 3rd Korean Association of Film Critics Awards

2013 34th Blue Dragon Film Awards

  • Best Supporting Actor: Lee Jung-jae
  • Nomination - Best Film
  • Nomination - Best Director: Han Jae-rim
  • Nomination - Best Actor: Song Kang-ho
  • Nomination - Best Supporting Actor: Jo Jung-suk
  • Nomination - Best Supporting Actress: Kim Hye-soo
  • Nomination - Best Screenplay: Kim Dong-hyuk
  • Nomination - Best Cinematography: Go Nak-seon
  • Nomination - Best Art Direction: Lee Ha-jun
  • Nomination - Best Lighting: Shin Kyung-man, Lee Chul-oh

2014 5th KOFRA Film Awards

2014 8th Asian Film Awards

  • Nomination - Best Costume Design: Shim Hyun-sub


  1. ^ Tae, Sang-joon (14 August 2013). "Director and Stars Gather for THE FACE READER Press Conference". Korean Film Council. Retrieved 2013-08-17. 
  2. ^ Ho, Stewart (27 March 2012). "Song Kang Ho Cast in His First Historic Movie Physiognomy". enewsWorld. Retrieved 2012-11-19. 
  3. ^ Do, Je-hae (2 August 2013). "Period pieces dominate Korean cinema, TV". The Korea Times. Retrieved 2013-08-03. 
  4. ^ Lee, Hyo-won (1 November 2013). "The Face Reader Shines at South Korea's Dae Jong Film Awards". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2013-11-05. 
  5. ^ Conran, Pierce (4 November 2013). "THE FACE READER Picks Up 6 at 50th Grand Bell Awards". Korean Film Council. Retrieved 2013-11-05. 
  6. ^ Lee, Hye-ji (28 August 2012). "The Thieves stars Lee Jung-jae, Kim Hye-soo join Song Kang-ho's 1st historical film". TenAsia. Retrieved 2012-11-19. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Grand Bell Award for Best Film
Succeeded by