Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance

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Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance
Hanja 는 나의 것
Revised Romanization Boksuneun Naui Geot
McCune–Reischauer Poksunŭn Naŭi Kŏt
Directed by Park Chan-wook
Produced by Im Jin-gyu
Written by Park Chan-wook
Lee Jae-soon
Lee Moo-young
Lee Yong-jong
Starring Song Kang-ho
Shin Ha-kyun
Bae Doona
Music by Baik Hyun-jhin
Jang Young-gyu
Cinematography Kim Byung-il
Edited by Kim Sang-bum
Studio Box
Distributed by CJ Entertainment
Tartan Films
Release dates
  • March 29, 2002 (2002-03-29)
Running time
129 minutes
Language Korean
Box office US$1,954,937[1]

Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (Hangul복수는 나의 것; RRBoksuneun Naui Geot; lit. "Vengeance Is Mine" or "Revenge Is Mine") is a 2002 South Korean film directed by Park Chan-wook which follows the character Ryu trying to earn enough money for his sister's kidney transplant and the path of vengeance that follows. It is the first part of The Vengeance Trilogy and is followed by Oldboy (2003) and Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (2005).


Ryu (Shin Ha-kyun), is a deaf-mute man working in a factory to support his ailing sister (Im Ji-eun), who is in desperate need of a kidney transplant. As Ryu is not a match, and he is laid off from his job, Ryu contacts a black market organ dealer, and agrees to exchange his severance money and one of his own kidneys in exchange for a matching one. The dealers perform the operation, but disappear after taking Ryu's kidney and money. Three weeks later, Ryu learns from his doctor that a donor has been found, but Ryu is unable to afford the operation now.

In need of money for the operation, Yeong-mi (Bae Doona), Ryu's radical anarchist girlfriend, suggests Ryu kidnap the daughter of an executive that fired him: they then kidnap Yu-sun (Bo-bae Han), the daughter of executive Dong-jin (Song Kang-ho) (a friend of Ryu's ex-boss, so as not to raise suspicion). The girl stays with Ryu's sister, who believes Ryu is merely babysitting her, and Ryu and Yeong-mi collect the ransom from Dong-jin. After collecting the money, Ryu finds his sister discovered his plan, and that she committed suicide. Finding her suicide note, Ryu learns she felt she was the cause of the kidnapping, and killed herself as she didn't want to be a burden or involved any further. Ryu takes Yu-sun and his sister's body to a suburban riverbed they used to frequent as children, and begins to bury her. Distracted by the burial and unable to hear, Ryu is unaware when Yu-sun slips into the river, and only finds her after she has drowned.

As Dong-jin mourns his daughter, he hires an investigator to help find Yu-sun's kidnappers, and realizes those he laid off may seek revenge. Meanwhile, Ryu locates, ambushes, and murders the organ dealers. Dong-jin, receiving help from several sources, finds Yeong-mi and interrogates her using a makeshift electric torture device. Yeong-mi apologizes for Yu-sun's death, but warns of a terrorist group she frequents that will find and kill Dong-jin if he doesn't spare her; unfazed by Yeong-mi's threats, he then electrocutes her. Ryu returns to Yeong-mi's apartment building and discovers the police removing her corpse. Dong-jin's investigator is informed that Yeong-mi's "terrorist group" consisted solely of her.

Ryu and Dong-jin wait at each other's residence in an attempt to kill the other. Ryu, being the first to return home, is knocked unconscious by an electric booby trap on his doorknob set up by Dong-jin. Dong-jin then binds Ryu and returns to the riverbed and brings Ryu chest-high into the water. Dong-jin, upset due to his actions, acknowledges that although Ryu is a good man, he has no choice but to kill him, and slashes Ryu's Achilles tendons. He then waits for Ryu to bleed to death.

Dong-jin drags Ryu back to shore, dismembers his corpse, and begins to dig a hole, but a group of men arrives. Surrounding and stabbing Dong-jin repeatedly, the group fatally wounds Dong-jin by pinning a note to his chest with a blade. The note revealing them to be Yeong-mi's terrorist group, the group then leaves Dong-jin dying beside his car with the bloody tools and bags containing Ryu's body.


  • Song Kang-ho as Park Dong-jin, President of a manufacturing company and friend of Ryu's employers and the father of Yu-sun.
  • Shin Ha-kyun as Ryu, a deaf-mute factory worker trying to pay his sister's hospital bills.
  • Bae Doona as Cha Yeong-mi, Ryu's girlfriend of several years, and a member of an underground anarchist organization.
  • Han Bo-bae as Yu-sun, Dong-jin's young daughter who is kidnapped.
  • Im Ji-eun as Ryu's sister, who is in need of a kidney transplant, but afraid of becoming a burden.


Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance opened in South Korea on March 29, 2002 and had a worldwide box office gross of US$1,954,937.[1] Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance received a low-profile North American theatrical release from Tartan Films beginning August 19, 2005, over three years after it debuted in South Korea. In its opening weekend, it collected US$9,827 (US$3,276 per screen) from three New York City theaters. It played on six screens at its most widespread, and its total North American box office take was US$45,243.[1]

The film was named the best movie of 2002 by Harry Knowles of Ain't It Cool News, who praised the acting and the story.[2] Bobo Deng from HDFest complimented the director on his visuals and the gruesome effects, stating that although the film has extreme violence, it is used to help develop the story.[3] Elaine Perrone from eFilmCritic commented on the cinematography of Kim Byung-il, saying that the film is "far more visually striking" than its successor Oldboy.[4]


2002 Busan Film Critics Awards[5]
2002 Chunsa Film Art Awards
  • Best Music - Baik Hyun-jhin and Jang Young-gyu (UhUhBoo Project)
2002 Korean Association of Film Critics Awards
2002 Korean Film Awards
  • Best Cinematography - Kim Byung-il
  • Best Editing - Kim Sang-bum
  • Best Lighting - Park Hyun-won
2002 Director's Cut Awards


In January 2010, Warner Bros. acquired the right for an American remake of the film.[6] Brian Tucker was attached to write the screenplay, to be produced by Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Mark Vahradian, in a team-up with CJ Entertainment.[7][8]


  1. ^ a b c "Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2005)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2014-03-17. 
  2. ^ Harry Knowles (16 January 2003). "Harry's Top Ten Films Of 2002". Ain't It Cool News. Retrieved 2008-03-18. 
  3. ^ Bobo Deng. "Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance – Park Chan-Wook". Retrieved 2008-03-18. 
  4. ^ Elaine Perrone. "Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance". Retrieved 2008-03-18. 
  5. ^ "Sympathy for Mr Vengeance". Cinemasie. Retrieved 2014-03-17. 
  6. ^ Steve Barton (7 January 2010). "Warner Has Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance". Dread Central. Retrieved 2014-07-18. 
  7. ^ Michael Fleming (6 January 2010). "WB wants Vengeance". Variety. Retrieved 2014-07-18. 
  8. ^ Mike Fleming Jr. (20 May 2013). "Cannes: Park Chan-wook's Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance Getting Remake". Retrieved 2014-07-18. 

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