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 date
  • 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") is a 2002 South Korean thriller 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 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 is laid off from his job, Ryu takes his severance money and contacts a black market organ dealer to exchange one of his kidneys for one that his sister can use. The dealers disappear after taking Ryu's kidney and money. Three weeks later, Ryu learns from his doctor that a donor has been found, but he is unable to afford the operation.

To raise money for the operation, Yeong-mi, Ryu's radical anarchist girlfriend, suggests kidnapping the daughter of an executive that fired Ryu. They kidnap Yu-sun, the young daughter of Dong-jin. The girl stays with Ryu's sister, who believes Ryu is merely babysitting her. Ryu and Yeong-mi successfully collect the ransom from Dong-jin. However, Ryu's sister discovers the plan and commits suicide to stop being a burden to him.

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 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 friends (a terrorist group) will kill him if she dies. Unfazed by the threats, Dong-jin electrocutes her. Meanwhile, Ryu locates and murders the organ dealers. He returns to Yeong-mi's apartment and sees the police removing her corpse.

Ryu and Dong-jin wait at each other's residence in an attempt to kill the other. Ryu, the first to return home, is knocked unconscious by a booby trap created by Dong-jin. He then takes Ryu to the riverbed where his daughter died, slashes his Achilles tendons and waits for Ryu to bleed to death.

After dismembering Ryu's corpse, Dong-jin begins digging a hole, when a group of men arrive. After surrounding and stabbing Dong-jin, one man pins a note to his chest with a knife. The note reveals them to be Yeong-mi's friends. The group leave Dong-jin dying next to the bloody tools and bags containing Ryu's body parts.


  • 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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