Yeon Sang-ho

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Yeon Sang-ho
Yeon in 2016
Born (1978-12-25) December 25, 1978 (age 44)
EducationSangmyung University - Western Painting
Occupation(s)Film director, screenwriter
Years active1997–present
Korean name
Revised RomanizationYeon Sang-ho
McCune–ReischauerYŏn Sang-ho

Yeon Sang-ho (born 25 December 1978) is a South Korean film director and screenwriter. He gained international popularity for working his adult animated films The King of Pigs (2011) and The Fake (2013), and the live-action film Train to Busan (2016), its animated prequel Seoul Station (2016) and live-action sequel Peninsula (2020), and first South Korean superhero film Psychokinesis (2018).


Born in Seoul on December 25, 1978, Yeon Sang-ho graduated from Sangmyung University with a degree in Western Painting.[1] He directed his first animated short film, Megalomania of D in 1997, followed by D-Day in 2000 and The Hell in 2002, then set up his own production house Studio Dadashow in 2004.[2] His next two animated shorts The Hell: Two Kinds of Life (2006) and Love Is Protein (2008) were invited to various international film festivals. The Hell: Two Kinds of Life won the Asian Ghost Award at the Short Shorts Film Festival Asia and the Public Award for Best Film School (Short Film Battle Royal) at the 2007 Lyon Asian Film Festival, and Love Is Protein screened in competition at the 2009 Curtocircuit International Short Film Festival of Santiago de Compostela in 2009.[3][4] Love Is Protein was later included in the three-short omnibus Indie Anibox: Selma's Protein Coffee.[5] Yeon also directed the animated opening trailer for the Busan International Film Festival in 2010.[6]

Yeon's first feature-length animation was The King of Pigs (2011), about a man who kills his wife after his business goes bankrupt, and seeks out his long-lost friend, a ghostwriter, 15 years after both had been severely bullied as adolescents in middle school. Inspired by the works of Satoshi Kon and Minoru Furuya, Yeon said the incidents in the film were drawn from his own life, and he cried while writing the screenplay.[7][8] The low-budget (US$150,000) film drew widespread critical acclaim for its raw portrayal of bullying, violence and systemic poverty (and the lifelong effects of such oppression), as well as the psychology of public attitudes toward a hero figure.[9][10] It became the first Korean animated film to be invited to the Cannes Film Festival, where it screened in the 2012 Directors' Fortnight sidebar.[11][12][13] It won numerous awards at domestic and international film festivals, including the Director's Guild of Korea Award for Best Director, CGV Movie Collage Award, and NETPAC Award at the 2011 Busan International Film Festival, the Satoshi Kon Award for Achievement in Animation and Special Mention (New Flesh Award for Best First Feature) at the 2012 Fantasia International Film Festival, and the Jury Prize at the 2013 Jameson Dublin International Film Festival.[14][15]

His follow-up The Window was a 30-minute animated short depicting violence in the military, and was the first film of the Independent Short Film Release Project organized by Indiespace, an independent-only theater and Indieplug, a digital distributor of independent films. Yeon said the script (illustrated by cartoonist Choi Gyu-seok) was 100% based on his own personal experience while doing his mandatory military service.[16] The Window won a Special Mention from the Jury at the 2013 Fantasia International Film Festival.

Yeon continued to make animation targeted at adults with dark, controversial themes that brutally and incisively explore human nature and social realism. His second feature The Fake (2013) critiqued organized religion, as a cult leader swindles rural, uneducated villagers out of their compensation money, while no one believes the local wastrel who discovers the truth (the characters were voiced by Oh Jung-se and Yang Ik-june, who previously starred in Love Is Protein and The King of Pigs).[17] Yeon said he wrote the script in 2009 because of his political dissatisfaction regarding issues about the FTA and Four Major Rivers Project.[18] The Fake made its world premiere at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, and won Best Film of AnimaFICX at the 2013 Gijón International Film Festival, Best Animated Feature Film at the 2013 Sitges Film Festival, and the FIPRESCI Award at the 2014 Korean Association of Film Critics Awards.[19][20][21]

He then cast Ryu Seung-ryong and Shim Eun-kyung as voice actors in his third animated feature, Seoul Station (2015).[22] Yeon said he wanted to depict society's collective rage in a "simple, powerful way" by making a zombie film in which zombies are among people protesting for the democratization of Korea.[23]

In 2016, Yeon released his first live-action film Train to Busan, which takes place on a train to Busan as a zombie apocalypse suddenly breaks out in the country and threatens the safety of the passengers. The film was released to rave reviews, with praise given to its characters and use of social commentary. A standalone sequel Peninsula was released in 2020, also directed by Yeon.[23]


Feature films[edit]

Year Film Credited as Notes
Director Writer Producer
2011 The King of Pigs Yes Yes also voice actor, editor, storyboard, character design, key animation, background artist, in between
2013 The Fake Yes Yes also voice actor, editor, storyboard, key animation, compositing
2014 Master and Man Yes
The Satellite Girl and Milk Cow as voice actor
2016 The Senior Class Yes Yes
Train to Busan Yes Adaptation
Seoul Station Yes Yes Yes
Kai Yes
2018 Psychokinesis Yes Yes
2019 Princess Aya Yes
2020 Peninsula Yes Yes
2021 The Cursed: Dead Man's Prey Yes
2023 Jung_E Yes Yes

Short films[edit]

Year Film Segment Credited as Notes
Director Writer
1997 Megalomania of D Yes Yes
2000 D-Day Yes Yes
2002 The Hell Yes Yes also producer, voice actor, rotoscoping cinematographer/line capture, layout, storyboard, in between
2006 The Hell: Two Kinds of Life Yes Yes also editor, character design
2008 Indie Anibox: Selma's Protein Coffee Love Is Protein Yes Yes also lyricist
2012 The Window Yes Yes also voice actor, animation director
2016 The Way Home Yes Yes


Year Title Credited as Notes
Director Writer
2020 The Cursed No Yes 12 episodes
2021–present Hellbound Yes Yes
  • 6 episodes (Season 1)
  • Upcoming (Season 2)
TBA Parasyte: The Grey Yes Yes [24]


Year Award Category Recipient(s) Result Ref(s)
2011 16th Busan International Film Festival DGK Award for Best Director The King of Pigs Won [25]
2014 1st Wildflower Film Awards Best Director The Fake Won [26]
2016 37th Blue Dragon Film Awards Best Film Train to Busan Nominated [27][28][29]
Best New Director Nominated
2016 25th Buil Film Awards Best Film Nominated [30][31][32]
Yu Hyun-mok Film Arts Award Won
2017 Fangoria Chainsaw Awards Best Foreign-Language Film Won [33]
2017 43rd Saturn Awards Best Horror Film Nominated [34]
2016 Korea Film Actor's Association Top Star Awards Best New Director Won [35]
2017 8th KOFRA Film Awards Best Discovery of the Year Won [36]
2017 53rd Baeksang Arts Awards Best Film Nominated
Best New Director Won

State honors[edit]

Name of country, year given, and name of honor
Country Year Honor Or Award Ref.
South Korea[note 1] 2022 Prime Minister's Commendation [42]


  1. ^ Honors are given at the Korean Popular Culture and Arts Awards, arranged by the Korea Creative Content Agency and hosted by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.[39][40] They are awarded to those who have contributed to the arts and South Korea's pop culture.[41]


  1. ^ "The Fake (2013) - Director". Finecut. Retrieved February 4, 2015.
  2. ^ "STUDIO DADASHOW 스튜디오 다다쇼". Retrieved May 7, 2016.
  3. ^ "The Hell (Two Kinds of Life)". IndieStory. Retrieved February 12, 2015.
  4. ^ "Love Is Protein". IndieStory. Retrieved February 12, 2015.
  5. ^ "Indie Anibox: Selma's Protein Coffee (DVD) (Korea Version)". YesAsia. Retrieved February 12, 2015.
  6. ^ "YEON Sang-ho". Korean Film Biz Zone. Retrieved February 12, 2015.
  7. ^ Jang, Byung-won (November 10, 2011). "Attack to wishes on hero". Korean Film Biz Zone. Retrieved February 4, 2015.
  8. ^ Lee, Claire (November 21, 2011). "Animation is the future: Yeun Sang-ho". The Korea Herald. Retrieved February 12, 2015.
  9. ^ Sung, So-young (November 4, 2011). "Dark, brutal King of Pigs no milquetoast cartoon". Korea Joongang Daily. Retrieved February 4, 2015.
  10. ^ Lee, Hyo-won (November 17, 2011). "Pigs depicts frightening realism". The Korea Times. Retrieved February 4, 2015.
  11. ^ "King of Pigs Animation Invited to Cannes". The Chosun Ilbo. April 25, 2012. Retrieved February 12, 2015.
  12. ^ Lee, Claire (April 26, 2012). "The King of Pigs becomes first Korean animation featured at Cannes". The Korea Herald. Retrieved February 12, 2015.
  13. ^ Kim, Seong-hoon (May 16, 2012). "Korean Films at Cannes 2012 - The King of Pigs". Korean Cinema Today. Retrieved February 4, 2015.
  14. ^ Lee, Claire. "Twisted revenge tale gives anime dark edge". The Korea Herald. Retrieved October 27, 2011.
  15. ^ "The King of Pigs". IndieStory. Retrieved February 12, 2015.
  16. ^ Huh, Nam-woong (November 2, 2012). "Director YEON Sang-ho's THE WINDOW: Society Needs Many Different Frames". Korean Film Biz Zone. Retrieved February 4, 2015.
  17. ^ Sunwoo, Carla (November 8, 2013). "The Fake presents a raw look at Christianity, belief in Korea". Korea Joongang Daily. Retrieved February 4, 2015.
  18. ^ Lee, Ju-hyun (November 8, 2013). "YEON Sang-ho, Director of THE FAKE". Korean Film Biz Zone. Retrieved February 12, 2015.
  19. ^ "The Fake Wins Animation Prize in Spain". The Chosun Ilbo. November 26, 2013. Retrieved February 4, 2015.
  20. ^ Conran, Pierce (November 26, 2013). "THE FAKE Claims Best Animation in Gijón". Korean Film Biz Zone. Retrieved February 4, 2015.
  21. ^ Conran, Pierce (November 4, 2014). "Top Honors for HILL OF FREEDOM at 34th Korean Film Critics Association Awards". Korean Cinema Today. Retrieved February 12, 2015.
  22. ^ Kim, Hee-eun (March 4, 2014). "Animator lines up big names". Korea Joongang Daily. Retrieved February 4, 2015.
  23. ^ a b Kim, Su-yeon (October 17, 2014). "Seoul Station Director YEON Sang-ho: "Trying zombie series through animation and live action films"". Korean Cinema Today. Retrieved February 12, 2015.
  24. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (August 24, 2022). "Netflix Sets 'Parasyte: The Grey', Korean Adaptation Of Horror Manga From 'Hellbound' & 'Train To Busan's Yeon Sang-ho". Deadline. Retrieved August 25, 2022.
  25. ^ Schwankert, Steven (October 14, 2011). "Busan International Film Festival Wraps with New Currents, Flash Forward Awards". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 4, 2015.
  26. ^ Frater, Patrick (April 1, 2014). "Jiseul Plucks First Wildflower Korea Award". Variety. Retrieved February 4, 2015.
  27. ^ "Hollywood Local Productions Dominate Nominations for South Korea's Blue Dragon Awards". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 19, 2016.
  28. ^ "박소담 연기한지 3년만 여우조연상 "솔직히 부담돼" 눈물 펑펑 - 스포츠투데이 - TV보다 재밌다". Retrieved November 25, 2016.
  29. ^ "[제37회 청룡영화상] '곡성' 쿠니무라 준 "한국영화의 힘 알게 됐다" 남우조연상 수상 (2016 청룡영화제) - 스타서울TV". November 25, 2016. Retrieved November 25, 2016.
  30. ^ Kil, Sonia (October 7, 2016). "Busan: Bu-il Awards Provide Counterpoint to Festival". Variety. Retrieved October 10, 2016.
  31. ^ "Winners Of 25th Buil Film Awards Revealed". Soompi. October 8, 2016. Retrieved October 10, 2016.
  32. ^ "2016 Buil Film Awards". Dramabeans. October 7, 2016. Retrieved October 11, 2016.
  33. ^ "Never mind Oscar, here's the 2017 FANGORIA Chainsaw Awards Nominees Ballot!". FANGORIA®. Archived from the original on August 6, 2017. Retrieved February 14, 2017.
  34. ^ McNary, Dave (March 2, 2017). "Saturn Awards Nominations 2017: 'Rogue One,' 'Walking Dead' Lead". Variety. Retrieved March 3, 2017.
  35. ^ "Actors Gong Hyo-jin, Cho Jung-seok, Cho Jin-woong win top star award". Yonhap News Agency. Retrieved December 29, 2016.
  36. ^ "'The Wailing' named best film by Korean film reporters". Yonhap News Agency.
  37. ^ "공유·박보검·남궁민·한석규...백상예술대상 男TV연기상 4파전". April 7, 2017.
  38. ^ "'Guardian,' 'The Handmaiden' win big at Baeksang Awards". Korea Herald. May 4, 2017.
  39. ^ Hicap, Jonathan (October 18, 2018). "BTS, Red Velvet win at Korean Popular Culture and Arts Awards". Manila Bulletin. Archived from the original on October 18, 2018. Retrieved June 18, 2021.
  40. ^ Yeo, Yer-im (October 25, 2018). "BTS gets award upon their return home". Yonhap News Agency. Archived from the original on November 7, 2018. Retrieved June 18, 2021 – via Korea JoongAng Daily.
  41. ^ Lee, Sang-won (October 25, 2016). "Korean Popular Culture and Arts Awards announces winners". The Korea Herald. Archived from the original on September 29, 2018. Retrieved June 18, 2021.
  42. ^ Park, Hae-shik (November 24, 2022). "강수연·박찬욱, 은관문화훈장 수훈…송강호·허영만은 보관문화훈장" [Kang Soo-yeon and Park Chan-wook, awarded with the Silver Crown Order of Cultural Merit... Song Kang-ho and Heo Young-man received the Order of Cultural Merit] (in Korean). Sports DongA. Retrieved November 24, 2022 – via Naver.

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