Park Chan-wook

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Park Chan-wook
Park Chan-wook at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival
Born (1963-08-23) August 23, 1963 (age 55)
Other namesBakridamae (박리다매)
OccupationFilm director
Former film critic
Years active1992–present
Korean name
Revised RomanizationBak Chanuk
McCune–ReischauerPak Ch'anuk

Park Chan-wook (Hangul박찬욱 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 best known for his films Joint Security Area (2000), Thirst (2009), The Handmaiden (2016) and what has become known as The Vengeance Trilogy, consisting of Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002), Oldboy (2003) and Lady Vengeance (2005).

He is also known for his English-language works Stoker (2013) and The Little Drummer Girl (2018), a television miniseries based on the novel of the same name by John le Carré.

His films have gained notoriety for their immaculate framing, black humor and often brutal subject matters.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Park was born and raised in Seoul,[3] 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.[4] 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).[citation needed]


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.[5]

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.[6] 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.[7]

Starting from 2004, Park has been an owner of the filmmaking company, Moho Film, which participated in the production of Snowpiercer and The Handmaiden.

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.[4]

His unofficially titled 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.[8]

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).

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).[9] 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.[10]

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.[11]

In 2011, Park said his new fantasy-horror film Paranmanjang (Night Fishing) was shot entirely on the iPhone.[12] 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.[13] He said he learned to accelerate the production process and completed filming in 480 hours.[11] Although Park does speak English, he used an interpreter on set.[11] 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."[14][11] 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.[15]

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.[16]

In September 2014, it was announced that Park would adapt Fingersmith, a historical crime novel by Sarah Waters.[17] The film entered production in mid-2015 and ended on October 31, 2015.[18] 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 Direction (Seong-hie Ryu) at the 2016 Buil Film Awards.[19] The film also enjoyed box office successes in several countries, such as South Korea, United States and United Kingdom. In January 2018, it was reported that Park's next project will be a TV miniseries adaptation of The Little Drummer Girl, a best-selling novel by John le Carré. It will star Michael Shannon, Florence Pugh, and Alexander Skarsgård.[20]

In October 2014, it was announced that Park had signed on to direct the sci-fi body-swap film, Second Born.[21]

Personal life[edit]

Park describes himself as an atheist, and he was raised in a Catholic family in Korea. He has collaborated with his younger brother, Park Chan-kyong, who is a media artist. He dedicated his career tribute to his wife Kim Eun-Hee at the 15th Marrakech International Film Festival.[22]



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
The Truth Beneath No Yes No


Year Title Credited as Notes
Director Writer Producer
2018 The Little Drummer Girl Yes No Executive 6 episodes

Short films[edit]

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 from "Cut") Yes Yes No
2013 Day Trip[citation needed] Yes* Yes No
V (music video for Lee Jung-hyun) Yes* Yes No
2014 A Rose Reborn[citation needed] Yes Yes No

* directed with his brother Park Chan-kyong


Year Event Award Title
2001 Deauville Asian Film Festival Lotus Award for Best Film Joint Security Area
Seattle International Film Festival New Director's Showcase Special Jury Prize
2002 Blue Ribbon Awards, Japan Best Foreign Language Film
Seattle International Film Festival Emerging Masters Showcase Award N/A
2003 Fantasia Festival, Montreal Best Asian Film Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance
Philadelphia Film Festival Jury Award for Best Feature Film
2004 Cannes Film Festival Grand Prix Oldboy
Asia Pacific Film Festival Best Director
Bergen International Film Festival Audience Award
Grand Bell Awards, South Korea Best Director
Sitges Catalan International Film Festival Best Film
Stockholm International Film Festival Audience Award
2005 Bangkok International Film Festival Golden Kinnaree Award for Best Director
Venice Film Festival CinemAvvenire Award Lady Vengeance
2006 Bangkok International Film Festival Golden Kinnaree Award for Best Director
Fantasporto, Portugal Orient Express Section Grand Prize for Best Film
Sarasota Film Festival Audience Award for Best in World Cinema
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
Sitges Catalan International Film Festival Best Screenplay
2008 Fantasporto, Portugal International Fantasy Film Award - Special Mention
2009 Cannes Film Festival Jury Prize Thirst
2011 Berlin Film Festival Golden Bear for Best Short Film Night Fishing
2016 Boston Society of Film Critics Awards Best Foreign Language Film The Handmaiden
Buil Film Awards Buil Readers' Jury Award
Chicago Film Critics Association Awards Best Adapted Screenplay
Best Foreign Language Film
Dallas–Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards Best Foreign Language Film
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards Best Foreign Language Film
New York Film Critics Online Best Foreign Language Film
San Francisco Film Critics Circle Awards Best Foreign Language Film
Houston Film Critics Society Awards Best Foreign Language Film
2017 KOFRA Film Awards Film Industry Figure of the Year
Baeksang Arts Awards Grand Prize (Film)
Saturn Awards Best International Film
2018 71st British Academy Film Awards Best Film Not in the English Language

Recurring cast in Park Chan-wook's films[edit]


  • 2005. Park's Montage (박찬욱의 몽타주). 마음 산책. 299 pages. ISBN 89-89351-81-2.[23][24]
  • 2005. Park's Hommage (박찬욱의 오마주). 마음 산책. 528 pages. ISBN 89-89351-82-0.[25][26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Watch: Bold, Beautiful 7-Minute Supercut Tribute To The Films Of Park Chan-Wook". Retrieved 2017-03-10.
  2. ^ "Cannes 09: Park Chan-Wook's 'Thirst' Is An Absurdist Treat That Becomes Muddled; Overstays Its Welcome". Retrieved 2017-03-10.
  3. ^ Chan-wook, Park. (2005-12-10). Park's Montage (essay). 마음 산책. "Introduction about the author, and the prologue". ISBN 89-89351-81-2.
  4. ^ a b "Dialogue: Park Chan-wook". The Hollywood Reporter. May 14, 2004. Retrieved 2007-07-14.
  5. ^ "A.V. Club interview with Park Chan-wook". Retrieved 2009-08-28.
  6. ^ "Yellow Sea Rising: The Resurrection of South Korean Cinema". Archived from the original on 2010-06-09. Retrieved 2009-08-30.
  7. ^ McConkey, Rachael. "Contemporary South Korean Auteurs". Retrieved 2008-05-07.
  8. ^ "Palisades Tartan unleashes the 8-Disc VENGEANCE TRILOGY Box". Archived from the original on 15 October 2009. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  9. ^ "The New Cult Canon: Oldboy". October 1, 2008. Retrieved 2009-08-28.
  10. ^ "China's Tuya's Marriage wins Berlin film festival". February 17, 2007. Archived from the original on April 8, 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-07.
  11. ^ a b c d Lee, Rachel (March 29, 2012). "Park Chan-wook stalks a thriller with 'Stoker'". Korea JoongAng Daily. Archived from the original on April 18, 2012. Retrieved April 1, 2012.
  12. ^ "'Oldboy' director shoots new horror film on iPhone 4". CNN. January 11, 2011. Retrieved 2011-01-11.
  13. ^ Kay, Jeremy (September 1, 2011). "Shooting begins on Stoker for Scott Free, Searchlight, Indian Paintbrush". Screen Daily. Retrieved September 2, 2011.
  14. ^ STOKER Featurette: "Director's Vision". YouTube. FoxSearchlight. 5 March 2013. Retrieved 29 November 2016.
  15. ^ "Korean Film Festival DC 2013". 28 February 2013. Retrieved April 10, 2018.
  16. ^ Akande, Zainab. "Watch: Park Chan-wook's Fashionista Thriller Starring Jack Huston and Jason Wu - IndieWire". Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  17. ^ Kim, Nemo (3 September 2014). "Park Chan-wook to Shoot Sexy Crime Story 'Fingersmith'". Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  19. ^ "Ah-ga-ssi". Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  20. ^ "Michael Shannon Joins Park Chan-Wook's AMC Series 'The Little Drummer Girl'". Collider. 25 January 2018. Retrieved 29 May 2018.
  21. ^ "Park Chan-wook Signs On For Body-Swapping Sci-Fi Thriller". ScreenCrush. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  22. ^ Dale, Martin (10 December 2015). "Park Chan-wook Talks About Next Pic The Handmaiden". Variety. Retrieved 23 November 2018.
  23. ^ "박찬욱의 몽타주". Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  24. ^ "박찬욱의 몽타주". Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  25. ^ "박찬욱의 오마주". Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  26. ^ "박찬욱의 오마주". Retrieved 6 November 2017.

External links[edit]