Kim Jee-woon

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Kim Jee-woon
Born (1964-07-06) July 6, 1964 (age 58)
Seoul, South Korea
Other namesKim Jee-woon
  • Film director
  • screenwriter
Years active1998–present
RelativesKim Ji-won (brother)
Korean name
Revised RomanizationGim Ji-un
McCune–ReischauerKim Chiun

Kim Jee-woon (Korean김지운; born July 6, 1964) is a South Korean film director and screenwriter.[1][2]


Kim started out directing theater but has worked with increasing levels of success in cinema, showing accomplished acting and a detailed stylization in his films.[3] Kim also pays careful attention to the release of his films on DVD and goes to greater than usual lengths to package them with extensive documentary materials and revealing commentary tracks.[4]

Kim is growing substantially both as a director and a visual stylist as demonstrated by two of his most recent films A Tale of Two Sisters and A Bittersweet Life both of which were received as critical and commercial successes.[5]

In 2010 Kim directed the thriller I Saw the Devil,[6] the cast of which includes Choi Min-sik (which he worked with previously on his film The Quiet Family) and Lee Byung-hun (whom he worked with previously on The Good, the Bad, the Weird and A Bittersweet Life).[7]

Kim's next film was his US debut, featuring the return of Arnold Schwarzenegger to lead acting roles, The Last Stand, for Lionsgate Films.[8] The film also starred Johnny Knoxville, Forest Whitaker, Peter Stormare, and Daniel Henney.

After his US debut, Kim returned to Korea to produce "Illang: The Wolf Brigade" based upon Mamoru Oshii's anime "Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade".[9]

The Quiet Family[edit]

In 1998, Kim directed and wrote his first feature film, The Quiet Family (1998), a horror/drama/comedy about a family who owns a mountain inn whose guests continue to commit suicide. The film was his first collaboration with actors Choi Min-sik (whom he would later collaborate with in I Saw the Devil) and Song Kang-ho (whom he would later collaborate with in The Foul King and The Good, the Bad, the Weird). The film won Best Live Action film at the 1999 Fantasporto festival, and Best Director and Best Film at the Malaga International Week of Fantastic Cinema. It was also nominated for Best Film at the 1998 Sitges - Catalan International Film Festival.

The Foul King[edit]

In 2000, Kim directed and wrote his second feature film, The Foul King (2000), re-uniting again with Song Kang-ho. The film follows an unproductive and incompetent bank clerk (played by Song Kang-ho) who escapes his demanding, alpha-male boss by entering the pro-wrestling ring and fighting under a pseudonym, "The Foul King." The two worlds eventually end up colliding, however. The film won Best Director at the 2001 Milan International Film Festival, and an Audience Award at the Udine Far East Film Festival.

Coming Out (short film)[edit]

In 2001, Kim directed and wrote a short film entitled Coming Out (2001). The film is about vampires, among other things, and Kim wrote and directed Coming Out as part of a project to distribute three digital short films online. It was also commissioned by venture group Media 4M, and the project also included shorts by Jang Jin and Ryu Seung-wan.[10] Coming Out was shot with a Canon XL-1 camcorder during a time when digital filmmaking in South Korea was still in its infancy, and went on to inspire many other digital productions.[11] It was shown at the Fantasia Festival, and the Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival in 2001 and the Thessaloniki International Film Festival in 2005.[12][13][14] Coming Out was also included as a special feature on the UK DVD release of The Quiet Family and a review at DVDActive praised it as "delicate, cerebral and contemporary cinema at its most profound."[15]

Memories segment in Three[edit]

Kim next wrote and directed the "Memories" segment in the omnibus film, Three (also known as Three Extremes II), also featuring segments directed by Peter Chan and Nonzee Nimibutr. The segment starred Kim Hye-soo.

A Tale of Two Sisters[edit]

In 2003, Kim wrote and directed A Tale of Two Sisters (2003), which won a number of awards at a number of film festivals including the Fant-Asia Film Festival (most popular film), Best Actress (Su-jeong Lim), Best Director and Best Film at the Fantasporto, Best Picture at Screamfest Horror Film Festival, Grand Prize and the Youth Jury Grand Prize at the Gerardmer Film Festival, and acting awards for Su-jeong Lim and Jung-ah Yum at the Blue Dragon Film Awards and the Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival. The film was later remade into the 2009 U.S. film The Uninvited, starring Emily Browning, with Kim being credited with an original story/writer credit.

A Bittersweet Life[edit]

In 2005, Kim wrote and directed A Bittersweet Life (2005), his first collaboration with actor Lee Byung-hun (whom he would later work with in The Good, the Bad, the Weird and I Saw the Devil). The film was an ultra-stylish and ultra-violent gangster and mobster picture that was both a critical and commercial success in South Korea. Lee Byung-hun won Best Actor at the Baeksang Arts Awards and Hwang Jung-min won a Best Supporting Actor award at Korea's Grand Bell Awards. Kim also won the "Action Asia Award" at the 2006 Deauville Asian Film Festival.

The Good, The Bad, The Weird[edit]

In 2008, Kim wrote and directed The Good, the Bad, the Weird (2008), his tribute to spaghetti westerns, westerns and western action films. He would re-team again with Song Kang-ho (who played "The Weird") as well as Lee Byung-hun (who played "The Bad") in the film. The film takes place in 1930s Manchuria and chronicles the struggles of the three main characters in trying to find a piece of treasure. The film won an Achievement in Cinematography Award from the 2008 Asia Pacific Screen Awards, won Best Supporting Actor for Jung Woo-sung (the "Good") at the 2009 Asian Film Awards, and won Best Director and Best Special Effects at the 2008 Sitges - Catalan International Film Festival.

I Saw The Devil[edit]

In 2010, Kim directed, based on a screenplay from Hoon-jung Park, I Saw the Devil (2010), re-uniting with actors Choi Min-sik and Lee Byung-hun. The film won a number of awards, including Best Director and Best Film at Fantasporto, Special Jury Prize, Audience Award, Critics Award at the Gerardmer Film Festival, Best Lighting at the Grand Bell Awards, Best Foreign Language film from the Austin Film Critics Association and Best Editing from the 2011 Asian Film Awards.[16]

Doomsday Book[edit]

In 2012, Kim directed and wrote the segment known as "The Heavenly Creature" about a robot who achieves enlightenment in a Buddhist temple, in 2012 omnibus film Doomsday Book (Yim Pil-sung directed the other two segments). The film won Best International Film at the Fantasia Festival and a Special Award at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival.

The Last Stand[edit]

In 2013, Kim made his U.S. feature directorial debut with the action film, The Last Stand, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Johnny Knoxville, Forest Whitaker, Daniel Henney, and more.

The X[edit]

In 2013, Kim premiered his short, The X, in the Gala Presentation category at the Busan International Film Festival.[17][18]

The Age of Shadows[edit]

On August 3, 2015, it was announced that Warner Bros. would finance and distribute its first ever Korean-language 1930s set drama Secret Agent, and the $8.62 million budgeted film would also be produced by Grimm Pictures.[19] The project and script was developed by Lee Jin-sook, which Kim Jee-woon would direct and the cast would be Song Kang-ho and Gong Yoo.[19] A trailer was released on July 14, 2016, revealing the new title as The Age of Shadows.[20]

Illang: The Wolf Brigade[edit]

From 2017 to 2018, Kim filmed the science fiction action film Illang: The Wolf Brigade, a remake of the 1999 anime film Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade [21][22][23][24]

Dr. Brain (Apple TV+ original)[edit]

In May 2019, YG Entertainment's drama production subsidiary YG STUDIOPLEX announced that Kim will direct the company's adaptation of the Daum webtoon Dr. Brain, created by Mister Hong.[25]

In October 2020, several Korean news outlets reported that the adaptation was picked up by Apple TV+, becoming the latter's first Korean language original series.[26][27][28] Titled Dr. Brain, it will have six episodes aimed for broadcast in 2021. [29]

Future projects[edit]

In October 2013, it was announced that Kim is set to direct the movie adaptation of Ed Brubaker's pulp crime comic Coward.[30][31]


Feature films[edit]

Year Film Credited as
Director Writer Producer
1998 The Quiet Family Yes Yes No
2000 The Foul King Yes Yes No
2003 A Tale of Two Sisters Yes Yes No
2005 A Bittersweet Life Yes Yes No
2008 The Good, the Bad, the Weird Yes Yes Yes
2010 I Saw the Devil Yes No No
2013 The Last Stand Yes No No
2016 The Age of Shadows Yes No Yes
2018 Illang: The Wolf Brigade Yes Yes No
TBA Cobweb Yes No No

Short films[edit]

Year Film Segment Credited as
Director Writer
2000 Coming Out Yes Yes
2002 Three "Memories" Yes Yes
2011 60 Seconds of Solitude in Year Zero segment Yes Yes
2012 Doomsday Book "The Heavenly Creature" Yes Yes
2013 One Perfect Day Yes Yes
2013 The X Yes Yes
2020 Live Your Strength Yes Yes

Recurring cast[edit]


  1. ^ Noh, Jean. "Finecut does deal with Kim Jee-woo's Devil". Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  2. ^ "'The Good, the Bad, the Weird' - OhmyNews International".
  3. ^ "A Bittersweet Life - Film @ The Digital Fix". 15 April 2006. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  4. ^ "Review "A Tale of Two Sisters" DVD, 31 March 2005". Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  5. ^ "Review "A TALE OF TWO SISTERS" DVD, 31 March 2005, Pop Matters".
  6. ^ "A Man Falls From Grace in First Images from 'I Saw the Devil'". BloodyDisgusting.
  7. ^ "'Oldboy' Star in Hunt of Psychopath in 'Saw a Devil'". BloodyDisgusting.
  8. ^ ""Eating sushi with a little less wasabi": Interview with Kim Jee-woon". Archived from the original on 5 January 2011. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  9. ^ "Is Kim Jee-woon Planning a Live-Action Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade Movie? -".
  10. ^ Paquet, Darcy. "Three comic filmmakers collaborate on digital film project". Korean Film Newsletter #7, 7 August 2000. Retrieved on 2 November 2008.
  11. ^ Lee Sang-yong. "Digital Generation, Digital Films". Korean Cinema: From Origins to Renaissance, pp. 397. Korean Film Council. Retrieved on 2 November 2008.
  12. ^ "Kim Jee-woon Tribute". Thessaloniki International Film Festival, 2005. Retrieved on 2 November 2008.
  13. ^ Moriarty. "FANTASIA 2001: MORIARTY Revels In The Wonder of METROPOLIS, LYLIA, TELL ME SOMETHING, and More Shorts!!". Ain't It Cool News, 4 August 2001. Retrieved on 2 November 2008.
  14. ^ "Made in Korea, Internet Meets the Big Screen". Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival. Retrieved on 2 November 2008.
  15. ^ Sarkar, Bodhi. "The Quiet Family – UK Region 0 (Tai Seng) vs HK Region 0 (Modern)". DVDActive, 10 September 2005. Retrieved on 2 November 2008.
  16. ^ "Kim Jee-Woon Interview: The Devil's Advocate". 5 December 2011. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  17. ^ Yonhap News Agency. "'ScreenX' to provide stronger audience immersion than Imax: Director Kim Jee-woon Archived 2013-10-07 at the Wayback Machine". Global Post, 4 October 2013. Retrieved on 10 October 2013.
  18. ^ Lee, Maggie. "Film Review: The X". Variety, 28 October 2013. Retrieved on 29 October 2013.
  19. ^ a b Kil, Sonia (August 3, 2015). "Warner Bros. Sets Kim Jee-woon's 'Secret Agent' as Debut Korean Production (EXCLUSIVE)". Retrieved August 4, 2015.
  20. ^ "[밀정] 1차 예고편 공개 The Age of Shadows (2016) teaser trailer (ENG SUB)". YouTube.[dead YouTube link]
  21. ^ "KIM Jee-woon's Sci-fi Action INRANG Starts Shooting in August". Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  22. ^ "Cast Set For Korean "Jin-Roh" Remake". Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  23. ^ "'The Good, The Bad, The Weird' director Kim Jee-woon sets cast, shoot date for new sci-fi". Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  24. ^ "(Yonhap Interview) Director Kim Jee-woon: Che Guevara inspires me to constantly challenge myself". Yonhap News Agency. 25 July 2018.
  25. ^ 김지운 감독, YG 손잡고 웹툰 '닥터 브레인' 드라마로 연출
  26. ^ 이선균 측 "애플TV '미스터 로빈' 출연? 김지운 감독에 제안만 받아" (공식)
  27. ^ 이선균, 애플TV플러스 '미스터 로빈' 출연할까 "제안받은 상태"
  28. ^ ‘밀정’ 김지운 감독, 애플 TV+와 6부작 드라마 준비 중이다
  29. ^ "'Parasite's Lee Sun-Kyun To Star In Apple TV+'s First Korean-Language Series 'Dr. Brain'". Deadline. 3 March 2021.
  30. ^ McNary, Dave. "Kim Jee-woon Directing Ed Brubaker's Coward (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety, 2 October 2013. Retrieved on 10 October 2013.
  31. ^ Venable, Nick. "The Last Stand's Kim Jee-Woon Will Direct Ed Brubaker's Pulp Crime Comic Coward". Cinema Blend, 4 October 2013. Retrieved on 10 October 2013.

External links[edit]