Searching for the Elephant

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Searching for the Elephant
Directed by S.K. Jhung
Produced by S.K. Jhung
Written by S.K. Jhung
Starring Jang Hyuk
Lee Sang-woo
Jo Dong-hyuk
Music by Park Min-june (DJ Soulscape)
Cinematography Oh Seung-hwan
Edited by Kim Sun-min
Distributed by Vantage Holdings
Release date
  • November 5, 2009 (2009-11-05)
Running time
142 minutes
Country South Korea
Language Korean
Box office US$915,943[1]

Searching for the Elephant (Hangul펜트하우스 코끼리; RRPenteuhauseu Kokkiri; lit. "Penthouse Elephant") is a 2009 South Korean psychological thriller written, directed and produced by S.K. Jhung (a.k.a. Jhung Seung-koo). It stars Jang Hyuk, Jo Dong-hyuk and Lee Sang-woo as three male friends who deal with sex addiction, anxiety and other contemporary disorders.[3]

It was the last onscreen appearance by Jang Ja-yeon, who committed suicide before the film's release.[4][5][6]


Freelance photographer Hyun-woo has a successful career and seems to be living an enviable life. But he's been suffering from depression since his ex-girlfriend Ma-ri left him, and begins to have trouble distinguishing between reality and delusion. One of Hyun-woo's friends, Min-seok, is an in-demand plastic surgeon who is also married to Hyun-woo's sister Soo-yeon. But Min-seok is constantly having affairs with various women and suspects that he may have sex addiction. Another longtime friend, Jin-hyuk, is a finance specialist. Jin-hyuk is secretly having an affair with Soo-yeon, Min-seok's wife, and is willing to give up everything for their love.

A suicidal, pot-smoking photographer with schizophrenic episodes, a sex addicted plastic surgeon with a bad conscience, and a secretive financier with legal trouble. These three childhood friends come together to relate common memories, future ambitions and share their deepest secrets. Searching for the Elephant is a raw, innovative film that portrays the decadent lives of the successful metropolitan in a cynical world. Materialistic dreams and mental anguishes collide as the lives of the three confused friends, and the women surrounding them, spirals out of control. The film is a stylistic psychological study, with its gritty story portrayed with creative images, disjointed cuts and a slick, stylistic camera work and aesthetics. Creating a beautiful contrast to the dark, disturbing story unfolding.[7]



Reviews for the film have been mixed. The Swiss website gave the film 3 stars (out of 5), citing the acting as "dramatic but exaggerated" but calling the film "boring."[8] The online cinematheque MUBI gave it 4 stars (out of 5).[9] Beyond Hollywood gave a generally negative review, stating that it is "void of any driving drama or tension right through until the final act" and that "the film is packed with wacky, often meaningless moments."[10]

This film is S.K. Jhung's feature directorial debut, and it was screened at various international film festivals including the Stockholm International Film Festival,[7] the Warsaw International Film Festival,[11] the Leeds International Film Festival, and the São Paulo International Film Festival.[12]

Searching for the Elephant landed on Korean critics' lists as one of the most underrated movies of 2009.[13]

The writer director S. K. Jhung of Searching for the Elephant was nominated for Grand Prix at the Warsaw International Film Festival in 2009. [1]


  1. ^ "Searching for the Elephant (2009)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 4 June 2012. 
  2. ^ "Theatrical Releases in 2009: Box-Office Admission Results". Retrieved 4 June 2012. 
  3. ^ "Late Korean actress' work invited to Polish film fest". The Korea Herald. 29 September 2009. Retrieved 28 April 2014. 
  4. ^ Chung, Ah-young (8 March 2009). "Boys over Flowers Actress Jang Found Dead in Apparent Suicide". The Korea Times. Retrieved 28 April 2014. 
  5. ^ Lee, Joo-hee (8 March 2009). "Rising actress found dead". The Korea Herald. Retrieved 28 April 2014. 
  6. ^ "Posthumous work of late actress to be released". The Korea Herald. 24 September 2009. Retrieved 28 April 2014. 
  7. ^ a b Eriksson, Niklas. "Searching for the Elephant". Stockholm International Film Festival. Retrieved 28 April 2014. 
  8. ^ "Searching for the Elephant". Molodezhnaja (in German). Retrieved 4 March 2013. 
  9. ^ "Searching for the Elephant". MUBI. Retrieved 4 March 2013. 
  10. ^ Mudge, James (13 February 2010). "Searching for the Elephant (2008) Movie Review". Beyond Hollywood. Retrieved 28 April 2014. 
  11. ^ "Searching for the Elephant". Warsaw International Film Festival. Retrieved 4 March 2013. 
  12. ^ "Searching for the Elephant". M-Line Distribution. Retrieved 28 April 2014. 
  13. ^ 2009년 평론가가 뽑은 '비운의 걸작' 그랜 토리노·파주·잘 알지도 못하면서 <출처> 본 기사는 조선닷컴에서 작성된 기사 입니다. The Chosun Ilbo (in Korean). 24 December 2009. Retrieved 28 April 2014. 

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