Park Chan-wook (Korean: 박찬욱 Korean pronunciation: [pak̚t͡ɕʰanuk̚ ]; born August 23, 1963) is a South Korean film director, screenwriter, producer, and former film critic. One of the most acclaimed and popular filmmakers in the world, Park is best known for his films Joint Security Area (2000), Thirst (2009), The Handmaiden (2016) and what has become known as The Vengeance Trilogy, consisting of Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002), Oldboy (2003) and Lady Vengeance (2005).
|Other names||Bakridamae (박리다매)|
|Alma mater||Sogang University, Seoul, South Korea|
|Occupation||Film director, screenwriter, producer|
|Revised Romanization||Bak Chanuk|
Park was born and raised in Seoul and studied philosophy at Sogang University, where, in light of his disappointment with the analytic orientation of the department and consequent scant offerings in aesthetics, he started a cinema club, the 'Sogang Film Community', and published a number of articles on contemporary cinema. Originally intending to be an art critic, Park, upon seeing Vertigo, resolved to become a filmmaker. After graduation, he wrote articles on film for journals and soon became an assistant director of films like Kkamdong, directed by Yu Yeong-jin, and Watercolor Painting in a Rainy Day, directed by Kwak Jae-yong (My Sassy Girl).
Park's debut feature film was The Moon Is... the Sun's Dream (1992). After five years, he made his second film, Trio. Park's early films were not successful at the box office, and he pursued a career as a film critic to make a living.
In 2000, Park directed Joint Security Area, which was a great success both commercially and critically, even surpassing Kang Je-gyu's Shiri as the then most-watched film ever made in South Korea. This success made it possible for Park to make his next film more independently. Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance is the result of this creative freedom.
Park's unofficially-titled Vengeance Trilogy consists of Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002), Oldboy (2003) and Lady Vengeance (2005). It was not originally intended to be a trilogy. Park won the Grand Prix at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival for Oldboy. The films concern the utter futility of vengeance and how it wreaks havoc on the lives of those involved. Lady Vengeance was distributed by Tartan Films for the United States theatrical release in April 2006. American director Quentin Tarantino is an avowed fan of Park. As the head judge at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival, he personally pushed for Park's Oldboy to be awarded the Palme d'Or (the honour eventually went to Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11). Oldboy garnered the Grand Prix, Cannes's second-highest honour. Tarantino also regards Park's Joint Security Area to be one of 'the top twenty films made since 1992'.
In 2006, Park was the member of official section jury at the 63rd Venice International Film Festival.
In February 2007, Park won the Alfred Bauer Prize at the 57th Berlin International Film Festival. The award, named after the festival's founder and in praise of works that introduce new perspectives, went to Park for his film, I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK.
In 2009, Park directed the vampire film Thirst, starring Song Kang-ho, which won the Prix du Jury (alongside Fish Tank, directed by Andrea Arnold) at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. He considered directing Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy but ultimately turned it down.
In 2011, Park said his new fantasy-horror film Paranmanjang (Night Fishing) was shot entirely on the iPhone. The film was co-directed with Park's younger brother, Park Chan-kyong, who had no prior directing experience. It was nominated for Berlinale Shorts during the 2011 Berlin Film Festival and won the Golden Bear for Best Short Film.
In 2013, Park directed his first English-language film, Stoker. He said he learned to accelerate the production process and completed filming in 480 hours. Although Park does speak English, he used an interpreter on set. On why the script attracted his attention, Park said: "It wasn't a script that tried to explain everything and left many things as questions, so it leads the audience to find answers for themselves, and that's what I liked about the script... I like telling big stories through small, artificially created worlds". On 2 March 2013, Park appeared on a panel discussion about the film Stoker held at the Freer Gallery of Art in the Smithsonian's Museums of Asian Art.
In 2014, Park directed a short film commissioned by luxury brand Ermenegildo Zegna, co-written by himself, Ayako Fujitani, Chung Chung-hoon and Michael Werwie, scored by Clint Mansell, and starring Jack Huston and Daniel Wu. It screened at the Rome International Film Festival and the Busan International Film Festival.
In September 2014, it was announced that Park would adapt Fingersmith, a historical crime novel by Sarah Waters. The film entered production in mid-2015 and ended on 31 October 2015. That film ended up becoming The Handmaiden and premiered in competition to rave reviews at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, where Artistic Director Seong-hie Ryu won the Vulcain Prize for the Technical Arts, and the film was nominated for both the Palme d' Or and Queer Palm. At the 2016 Buil Film Awards, The Handmaiden won for Best New Actress (Tae-ri Kim), The Buil Readers' Jury Award and Best Art Direction (Seong-hie Ryu). The film holds a 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and saw box office success in several countries, including South Korea, the United States and the United Kingdom.
In October 2014, it was announced that Park had signed on to direct the sci-fi body-swap film, Second Born.
In January 2018, it was stated that Park would direct a TV miniseries adaptation of The Little Drummer Girl, a novel by John le Carré. It aired on BBC One in October of that year and stars Michael Shannon, Florence Pugh and Alexander Skarsgård.
At the 24th Busan International Film Festival, Park said that he is writing scripts for feature films, for theater and for TV, including a new installment in the Vengeance Trilogy, and a second adaptation of Donald E. Westlake's novel The Axe.
In May 2020, it was announced that he was working on his next film's screenplay, tentatively titled Heeojil gyeolsim (The Decision to Break Up). It is described as a melodrama and will star Tang Wei and Park Hae-il. In October 2020, the title of the film was revealed as Decision to Leave, with the story described as a murder mystery romance. The film was set to begin shooting later that month. In April 2021, A24 optioned Viet Thanh Nguyen's 2015 novel The Sympathizer for a TV adaptation, with Park Chan-wook directing.
Park was raised in a devout Catholic family in Korea, and describes himself as an atheist. He has collaborated with his younger brother, Park Chan-kyong, who is a media artist. He dedicated his career tribute to his wife Kim Eun-Hee at the 15th Marrakech International Film Festival. He voiced support for the Democratic Labor Party and was also a member of its successor, the New Progressive Party. He supported Justice Party candidate Sim Sang-jung in the 2017 South Korean presidential election.
|1992||The Moon Is... the Sun's Dream||Yes||Yes||No|
|Joint Security Area||Yes||Yes||No|
|2002||Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance||Yes||Yes||No|
|A Bizarre Love Triangle||No||Yes||No|
|Boy Goes to Heaven||No||Yes||No|
|2006||I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|2008||Crush and Blush||No||Yes||Yes|
|The Truth Beneath||No||Yes||No|
|TBA||Decision to Leave||Yes||Yes||TBA|
|2018||The Little Drummer Girl||Yes||Executive||6 episodes|
|2003||If You Were Me||Never Ending Peace And Love||Yes||Yes||No|
|60 Seconds of Solitude in Year Zero||Cut||Yes||Yes||No|
|V (music video for Lee Jung-hyun)||—||Yes[a]||Yes||No|
|2014||A Rose Reborn (for Ermenegildo Zegna)||—||Yes||Yes||No|
- Directed with his brother, Park Chan-kyong.
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Were there issues of faith in your own life that made you interested in creating this character?: I grew up in a very Catholic family. Up until puberty, I would go to a Catholic church every week. That is where I started to take an interest in religion, although currently I have no faith. But I had been made aware of a sense of guilt that is unique to Catholics.
- "박찬욱 감독이 말하는 심상정에게 투표한다는 것, "언제가 되어야 아무 걱정없이 자기 소신껏 투표를 할 수 있다는 말입니까?" by 심상정 선대위".
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Park Chan-wook.|
- Park Chan-wook at IMDb
- Park Chan-wook at Rotten Tomatoes
- Park Chan-wook at the Korean Movie Database
- Park Chan-wook at AllMovie
- Park Chan-Wook to make korean horror Movie using only iPhone at Korean Horror Movies
- Park Chan-wook: monographic website (Italian & English)
- Cineseoul profile (Korean)
- HanCinema Director Page
- Park Chan-wook at FEARnet
- SuicideGirls interview with Park Chan-wook by Daniel Robert Epstein
- July 2009 Interview with Park Chan-wook at the Korea Society (Audio)
- Park Chan-wook on Naver