Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance

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Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance
Promotional release poster
Hangul복수 나의
Hanja復讐는 나의 것
Revised RomanizationBoksuneun Naui Geot
McCune–ReischauerPoksunŭn Naŭi Kŏt
Directed byPark Chan-wook
Produced byIm Jin-gyu
Written byPark Chan-wook
Lee Jae-soon
Lee Moo-young
Lee Yong-jong
StarringSong Kang-ho
Shin Ha-kyun
Bae Doona
Music byBaik Hyun-jhin
Jang Young-gyu
CinematographyKim Byung-il
Edited byKim Sang-bum
Studio Box
Distributed byCJ Entertainment
Tartan Films
Release date
  • March 29, 2002 (2002-03-29)
Running time
129 minutes
Box officeUS$1,954,937[1]

Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (Hangul복수는 나의 것; RRBoksuneun Naui Geot; lit. "Vengeance Is Mine") is a 2002 South Korean action[2][3][4] thriller film directed and co-written 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 Lady Vengeance (2005).


Ryu is a deaf-mute man working in a factory. His ailing sister is in desperate need of a kidney transplant, but Ryu's is not a match. After he loses his job, Ryu contacts a black market organ dealer to exchange one of his kidneys for one his sister can use. However, the dealers disappear after taking Ryu's kidney and money.

A donor is found, but Ryu can't afford the operation. To raise money, Yeong-mi, Ryu's radical anarchist girlfriend, suggests kidnapping the daughter of the executive that fired Ryu. To avoid suspicion, they kidnap Yu-sun, the young daughter of the executive's friend Dong-jin. Yu-sun stays with Ryu's sister, who believes Ryu is babysitting her. Ryu and Yeong-mi collect the ransom from Dong-jin, but Ryu's sister discovers their plan and commits suicide.

Ryu takes Yu-sun and his sister's body to a suburban riverbed they frequented as children to bury her. Distracted by the burial and unable to hear, Ryu is unaware when Yu-sun slips into the river, and she drowns.

As Dong-jin mourns his daughter, he hires an investigator to find her kidnappers. Dong-jin finds Yeong-mi and tortures her. She apologizes for Yu-sun's death but warns Dong-jin that her terrorist friends will kill him if she dies. Unfazed, Dong-jin electrocutes her. After Ryu murders the organ dealers, he returns to Yeong-mi's apartment and sees the police removing her corpse.

Dong-jin knocks Ryu unconscious with a booby trap. He takes Ryu to the riverbed where his daughter died, slashes his Achilles tendons and waits for him to bleed to death. After he dismembers Ryu's corpse, Yeong-mi's terrorist associates arrive. They stab Dong-jin, pin a note to his chest, and leave him to die.


  • 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.
  • Lee Dae-yeon as Choi, the investigator hired by Dong-jin to find his daughter's kidnappers.
  • Ryoo Seung-bum as Retarded Boy at the Lake
  • Ryoo Seung-wan as Food Delivery Boy at Cha's apartment
  • Oh Kwang-rok as Anarchist (who appears at the end of the film)
  • Lee Kan-hee as Park Dong-jin's ex-wife (cameo)
  • Jung Jae-young as Husband of Dong-jin's ex-wife (cameo)
  • Masashi Fujimoto as Peng, a Japanese man who has financial problems with Dong-Jin.


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]

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.[5] 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.[6]


2002 Busan Film Critics Awards[7]
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.[8] 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.[9][10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2005)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2014-03-17.
  2. ^ Sympathy for Mr vengeance | Genres: Thriller | Subgenre: Action Thriller
  3. ^ Sympathy for Mr Vengeance | Genres: Action
  4. ^ 20 Best South Korean films
  5. ^ Bobo Deng. "Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance – Park Chan-Wook". Archived from the original on 2014-07-26. Retrieved 2008-03-18.
  6. ^ Elaine Perrone. "Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance". Retrieved 2008-03-18.
  7. ^ "Sympathy for Mr Vengeance". Cinemasie. Retrieved 2014-03-17.
  8. ^ Steve Barton (7 January 2010). "Warner Has Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance". Dread Central. Retrieved 2014-07-18.
  9. ^ Michael Fleming (6 January 2010). "WB wants Vengeance". Variety. Retrieved 2014-07-18.
  10. ^ Mike Fleming Jr. (20 May 2013). "Cannes: Park Chan-wook's Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance Getting Remake". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 2014-07-18.

External links[edit]