Park Hoon-jung (Korean박훈정; Hanja朴勳正, born in 1975) is a South Korean film director and screenwriter. Park first gained recognition in the Korean film industry for his screenwriting, having written the screenplays for directors Kim Jee-woon's I Saw the Devil (2010) and Ryoo Seung-wan's The Unjust (2010).[1] In 2011, he made his directorial debut with the period film The Showdown, and his second film, the gangster epic New World (2013), was a critical and commercial success.[2][3][4]

Park Hoon-jung
Park Hoon-jung 2017
Years active2010–present
EmployerGold Moon
Notable workNew World (2013 film)
Spouse(s)married, undisclosed
Korean name
Revised RomanizationBak Hun-jeong
McCune–ReischauerPak Hunjŏng

Early career Edit

Park was born in 1975. Since the late 1980s, in his teens, he was already a Cinephile.[5] In 1991, when he was in his second year of high school, he set a future goal to be a film director.[6] However, He enrolled to natural science department in college. After repeating his first college year twice, he enlisted to mandatory military service.[6] He then applied for a non commissioned officer and was discharged as a sergeant five years later. After five years of military leave, he naturally dropped out of college.[7]

After his military discharge, Park participated in a game scenario contest held by the Venture Association. He was elected and joined a game company as a special recruit, working on game scenarios. However, the company changed its business course to something else, and Park started another game company with the people he had worked with. Unfortunately, the business didn't go well.[7]

In the meantime, he won a synopsis contest hosted by Sidus HQ, which opened doors for him in the film industry.[7][8][9][10]

Career Edit

Debut as scriptwriter Edit

Park made his breakthrough as a screenwriter for writing the screenplays for Kim Jee-woon's film I Saw the Devil (2010) and Ryoo Seung-wan's film The Unjust (2010). The release of these two films in 2010 cemented the name of "Park Hoon-jung" in Chungmuro.[11]

"When Choi Min-shik first approached me with this project I was working on a different film, but it got delayed for a year and I thought I couldn’t just rest and do nothing. I needed a script because it would have taken too long to develop something new from scratch. So I was in a bit of a dilemma when exactly at this moment Choi, who plays the serial killer in the film, came to me with this script, and suddenly everything fell into place.

When I first read the script it felt very new and powerful but at the same time it had a brutal and tough side to it, which got me interested…"

Kim Jee-woon about I Saw The Devil Script[12][13]

The script for the film I Saw the Devil (2010) marked the first time that Kim Jee-woon directed a film that was written by someone else. He was offered the script by Choi Min-sik, who played the villain in the story. Kim then cast Lee Byung-hun in the title role.[14] I Saw the Devil was Choi Min-sik's first major role since the changes to the Korean screen quota system.[15]

After premiering in South Korea on August 12, 2010, film I Saw the Devil was screened at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival on January 21, 2011. It was also shown at various other international film festivals, including the Fantasporto Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, Sitges Film Festival, San Sebastian Film Festival and the London Korean Film Festival.[11][14] The film received mostly favorable review from international movie critics.[11] The film won a number of awards, including Best Director and Best Film at Fantasporto, Special Jury Prize, Audience Award, Critics Award at the Gerardmer Film Festival, Best Lighting at the Grand Bell Awards, Best Foreign Language film from the Austin Film Critics Association and Best Editing from the 2011 Asian Film Awards.[16]

When Ryoo Seung-wan directed The Unjust, which was written by Park, it was a significant milestone for him as it marked the first time he directed a film not written by himself in his career. Prior to this, Ryoo had always directed films based on his own scripts.[17][18]The Unjust is a South Korean action crime film that presents a dark and acrid critique of corruption in the country's justice system. It is notable for being the fifth collaboration between director Ryoo and his younger brother, actor Ryoo Seung-bum. The film also reunites lead actors Hwang Jung-min and Ryoo Seung-bum, who had previously worked together in Bloody Tie (2006).[19][20]

The film has screened at numerous film festivals around the world, including the Panorama section of the 61st Berlin International Film Festival,[21] the Hong Kong International Film Festival,[22] the Shanghai International Film Festival,[23] the New York Asian Film Festival,[24] the Fantasia Festival,[25] the Hawaii International Film Festival,[26] the Vladivostok International Film Festival - Pacific Meridian,[27] the Sitges Film Festival,[28] the London Korean Film Festival,[29] and the Udine Far East Film Festival.[30] The Unjust was a critical and commercial success, grossing 2.7 million admissions at the box office and winning several awards. Park also received numerous awards for his screenplay of the film.

Career as director Edit

Park made his directorial debut with film The Showdown which was released in 2011. He wrote the script in 2006 and offered the script to other directors and production companies. However they all wanted to tell a different story while keeping only the basic framework. Park felt like it was too far from his vision, so he thought of directing the film himself.[7][31] Despite having a low budget of approximately 1.99 billion won,[32] the film failed to achieve commercial success.[33]

After the commercial failure of his debut film, Park encountered difficulties in planning his next project, the Korean-style noir film 'Shinsegae' or New World. Park said, "The people who wants to invest asked for two things. "The scenario and actors are good, but change the director and genre", or "Noir is not a box office hit, so let's cut the production cost." Despite the initial challenges, New World managed to attract a total audience of 4.68 million, according to the integrated computer network of the Korea Film Commission. This success marked Park's first box office hit and he was praised for pioneering a new path for Korean-style noir.[7][33]

New World stars Lee Jung-jae, Choi Min-sik, Hwang Jung-min, Park Sung-woong, and Song Ji-Hyo.[34][35] In the film, Lee Ja-sung (Lee Jung-jae) struggles to balance his role as an undercover police officer with his rise in Korea's crime syndicate.[36][37] The New York Times called the film "both less bloody and more thoughtful than most of its genre, the shifting-alliances plot becoming more engrossing as it progresses."[38] Park won the Jury Award at the 5th Beaune International Thriller Film Festival in 2013.[39]

In 2015, Park reunited with Choi Min-sik in historical film The Tiger. Set in 1925 during the Japanese colonial period, "The Tiger" depicts the fateful story of Cheon Man-deok, a tiger hunter, and the last tiger of Joseon. The screenplay was authored in 2009 while Park was still a relatively unknown writer, and it was promptly sold to a film company upon completion. Although Park initially had no plans of directing the film, he eventually took on the role of director five years later.[40] The distributor, NEW, along with Choi Min-sik urged Park to take on the role of director. They argued that he was the best fit to direct since he had written the script.[41]

Despite being a commercial blockbuster film that cost 14 billion won, Park and his team faced difficulties in creating a realistic tiger using only about 1/11 of the production cost of Life of Pi, which also utilized CGI animation for its tiger character.[42] Although the film did not perform as well as expected at the box office, it has been widely acclaimed for its high-quality production and impressive use of CG work to vividly bring the Joseon tiger to life on screen.[43] Park was nominated for and won several awards for his direction and screenplay for The Tiger, while his team received technical awards for their impressive CGI animation work.[42]

In 2016, Park founded a film production company called 'Geumwol'. The name of the production company is derived from the Chinese characters for the criminal organization 'Goldmoon' from his film New World. Park stated that he established the company to create the kind of work he wanted to make and to avoid feeling guilty for the production company's lack of success. He also mentioned that while there are many well-known works, there are not many successful ones.[44]

After establishing his own film production company in 2016, Park collaborated with Warner Bros. to produce his next film in 2017. Park's subsequent film, V.I.P., which featured Jang Dong-gun, Kim Myung-min, Park Hee-soon and Lee Jong-suk,[45] is a crime-action thriller that centers around the pursuit of a suspected serial killer by officers from South Korea, North Korea, and Interpol. However, despite its star-studded cast, the film was disappointing in terms of box office success. Additionally, V.I.P. received heavy criticism for its excessive portrayal of violence against women.[46]

In 2018, Park with reunited for the third time with Park Hee-soon in South Korean science fiction action horror film The Witch: Part 1. The Subversion.[47][48] The film also stars veteran actress Jo Min-soo and actor Choi Woo-shik. The plot revolves around Ja-yoon (played by Kim Da-mi), a high school student who loses all memory after escaping alone from a facility where a mysterious accident resulted in multiple deaths. Kim, a rookie actress at that time, was chosen for the role of Ja-yoon after competing against odds of 1,500 to 1. This role launched Kim Dami’s career.[49][50]

Despite writing it before film The Tiger (2015), Park delayed its release due to discouragement from those around him. After the release of V.I.P., he eventually met investors. Major Korean distributors found the film difficult due to it being female-led with a new actress and a budget of 6 billion won. However, Warner Bros. Korea showed interest and was more open to casting new actors and big budget. Warner Bros. headquarters responded positively to the project and expressed interest in developing it as a franchise.[51]

"Night in Paradise is one of the best gangster movies coming from South Korean cinema in recent years. Park Hoon-jung is a director that deserves full attention for his ability to combine the writing of original screenplays with the creation of complex characters that are never stereotypical, together with impressive and masterly directorial skills. His name will certainly be heard even more in the future."

Alberto Barbera, director of 77th Venice International Film Festival[52][53]

In September 2020, Warner Bros. Korea withdrew from the Korean film industry due to poor results in its recent productions. The withdrawal has raised uncertainty about the much-anticipated sequel, "The Witch 2," following the success of the first installment, The Witch: Part 1. The Subversion which attracted 3.18 million viewers upon its release in 2018.[54]

In November 2020, Geumwol and Studio & New, a content production affiliate of the media group NEW, signed an equity investment contract.[55]

In the same year, Park wrote and directed Night in Paradise, a film featuring Tae-goo (played by Uhm Tae-goo), a member of a criminal gang led by Mr. Yang (played by Park Ho-san). Tae-goo seeks revenge after his sister and niece are murdered, resulting in his brutal killing of Chairman Doh and his men from the Bukseong gang. He meets Jae-yeon (played by Jeon Yeo-been), a terminally ill woman, on Jeju Island. The Bukseong gang's Director Ma (played by Cha Seung-won) relentlessly hunts down Tae-goo for revenge, and Yang betrays Tae-goo to save his own life.[56]

The majority of the filming took place on Jeju Island, lasting over three months.[57] Night in Paradise had its premiere on September 3, 2020, at the 77th Venice International Film Festival, where it was screened as part of the "Out of Competition" category. In October 2020, it was reported that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Next Entertainment World was considering releasing the film directly on Netflix instead of in theaters. In February 2021, it was officially announced that the film would be released on Netflix on April 9th.[58][59] The film reached the number one spot on Netflix's Top 10 most popular content list after their release.[60]

The production of The Witch: Part 1. The Subversion' sequel faced significant difficulties when Warner Bros. Korea withdrew from the Korean film industry. However, Park's production company and NEW eventually negotiated the rights to the film with Warner Bros. headquarters. Due to budget constraints and the COVID-19 pandemic, the film could not be made as originally planned and was reformulated from what was originally planned as third movie. Park acknowledged that the film may not meet audience expectations.[61]

The Witch: Part 2. The Other One features a new character named So-nyeo (played by Shin Shi-a), who is the only survivor of a secret laboratory. So-nyeo was pursued by various characters, including Dr. Baek, each with their own motives for chasing her. The film will also reveal the relationship between Ja-yoon and So-nyeo, adding to the overall intrigue of the storyline. It was released on 15 June 2022 in South Korea.[62][63][64]

In the end of 2021, Park wrote and direct an action-noir film The Childe (originally titled Sad Tropics). Kim Seon-ho, Kim Kang-woo, Go Ara, and Kang Tae-joo in his film debut were cast.[65] It is scheduled to be released theatrically in June 2023.[66]

Filmmaking Edit

Park is known for his unique and distinct directing style, which often involves visually stunning and intense action sequences, complex characters, and intricate plotlines.[67][68] He is particularly skilled at creating tension and suspense, using a combination of music, cinematography, and editing to build a sense of unease and anticipation.[69][70][71]

Additionally, His films often explore themes of revenge, betrayal, and morality, and he is known for his ability to create morally ambiguous characters and thought-provoking storylines.[72]

Park's films often feature graphic violence, a tendency which has sometimes been criticized. He places a strong emphasis on realistic and gritty depictions of violence and crime, which often make his films intense and emotionally charged.[73][74][75][76]

Influences Edit

Park Hoon-jung's films have been influenced by a variety of sources, including Hongkong films and Hollywood action movies. Park grew up at a time when Korean cinema was not thriving, therefore he did not have many opportunities to watch Korean films. Park cited (Francis Ford Coppola's) masterpiece The Godfather as one of his favourite films and a major influence on his work.

The film Infernal Affairs and Donnie Brasco were among the films that came to mind while making New World, but it wasn't limited to those. The film also contained elements and tones from other movies such as The Godfather, Election, Hell’s Kitchen, and Heat. Since Park was greatly influenced by these films and they belonged to a similar genre that he enjoyed, it was impossible for him to break away from them completely. Instead, he actively infused them into his film and aimed to take the story in a completely different direction while still preserving the essence of each movie.[8]

In recent times, Park has had the chance to watch a significant number of Korean films and has become an avid admirer of celebrated directors such as Bong Joon-ho, Park Chan-wook, and Kim Jee-woon.[77][78]

Method Edit

Park, in general, gets story material from watching the news and observing the happenings in Korean society. Park's thoughts and beliefs are typically reflected in their subsequent screenplays. Park finds that a script becomes more nuanced after incorporating current events in Korea.[77] Park does not have any particular actors in mind when writing a screenplay. However, once the casting process is finished and the actors are chosen, Park makes adjustments to the script to better fit the chosen cast member's character portrayal and acting style.[77]

In Park's previous screenplays, all except for I Saw the Devil, triangular structures were used. Park believes that in exploring power or class conflicts. According to Park, the triangular character setup is the most effective and personally more interesting. Nevertheless, the applicability of a triangle structure relies on the specific material, but for character struggles, Park has a preference for it.[77] This creates a dynamic tension between the characters, with each one vying for power or control over the others. For example, in his film New World, Park uses a triangular structure to explore the power struggle between three characters: an undercover cop, a gangster, and the head of a crime syndicate.[79] Similarly, in The Unjust, Park uses a triangular structure to depict the corruption and moral decay of three characters: a prosecutor, a detective, and a businessman. By using this triangular structure, Park is able to create complex and nuanced characters who are in conflict with each other, while also exploring larger themes such as power, control, and morality. The use of this structure is a hallmark of Park's early films and contributed to his reputation as a skilled and innovative filmmaker.[77]

Compared to most Korean directors who prefer standalone films, Park is one of the few who has created a sequel that expands the universe of his original film. This approach is rare in Korean cinema and showcases Park's ability to push boundaries and create more complex narratives.[63]

Collaborators Edit

Park has a history of successful collaborations with various talented individuals in the film industry. For instance, he has frequently collaborated with film editor Kim Chang-ju on several projects, such as The Tiger (2015), V.I.P. (2017), The Witch: Part 1. The Subversion (2018), all of which have been well-received by both audiences and critics.

Another notable collaborator of Park's is cinematographer Chung Chung-hoon. The pair first met during the production of The Unjust (2010) and have since worked together on film New World (2011). Chung is known for his exceptional use of lighting and camera work, and his visual style has been a strong match for Park's atmospheric and visually stunning films.[35]

Music director Mowg is another collaborator that Park has worked closely with since their partnership on I Saw the Devil (2010). The two have continued their successful collaboration on several other projects, such as V.I.P. (2017), The Witch: Part 1. The Subversion (2018), Night in Paradise (2021), The Witch: Part 2. The Other One (2022), and The Childe (2023).

Park is known for frequently casting the same actors, with Park Hee-soon being one of his most frequent collaborators. Park has appeared in three of Kim's directed feature-length films. He appeared in Park's directorial debut The Showdown (2011), V.I.P. (2017), and The Witch: Part 1. The Subversion (2018). Choi Min-sik is another actor who has worked with Park on multiple occasions. He appeared in Park's debut as a screenwriter, I Saw the Devil (2010), as well as two feature films where Park served as the director: New World (2011) and The Tiger (2015). Their collaborations have been highly regarded by audiences and critics alike.

Recurring casts
Justin John Harvey
I Saw the Devil  Y
The Unjust  Y  Y
The Showdown  Y
New World  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y
The Tiger  Y
V.I.P.  Y  Y  Y  Y
The Witch: Part 1. The Subversion  Y  Y  Y  Y
Night in Paradise  Y  Y  Y
The Witch: Part 2. The Other One  Y  Y  Y  Y  Y
The Childe  Y  Y  Y  Y
Tyrant  Y  Y  Y  Y

Filmography Edit

Feature films of Park Hoon-jung
Year Title Credited as Ref.
English Korean Director Screenwriter Producer
2010 I Saw the Devil 악마를 보았다 Kim Jee-woon Yes [14]
The Unjust 부당거래 Ryoo Seung-wan Yes [1]
2011 The Showdown 혈투 Yes Yes [7]
2013 New World 신세계 Yes Yes [6]
2015 The Tiger 대호 Yes Yes [46]
2017 V.I.P. 브이아이피 Yes Yes Yes [46]
2018 The Witch: Part 1. The Subversion 마녀 Yes Yes Yes [80]
2020 Night in Paradise 낙원의 밤 Yes Yes Yes [59]
2022 The Witch: Part 2. The Other One 마녀 2: the other one Yes Yes Yes [62]
2023 The Childe 귀공자 Yes Yes Yes [81]
TBA Tyrant 폭군 Yes Yes Yes [82]

Awards and nominations Edit

Year presented, name of the award ceremony, category, nominated work, and the result of the nomination
Year Award Category Nominated Work Result Ref.
2011 15th Fantasia International Film Festival Best Screenplay The Unjust Won [83]
5th Asian Film Awards Best Screenplay Nominated [84]
47th Baeksang Arts Awards Best Screenplay – Film Nominated [85][86]
48th Grand Bell Awards Best Screenplay Nominated [87][88][89][90]
32nd Blue Dragon Film Awards Best Screenplay Won [91]
2013 8th A-Awards[a] The Best Black Collar Workers of 2013 — Creativity Award Park Hoon-jung Won [92][93]
49th Baeksang Arts Awards Best Screenplay – Film New World Nominated [94]
Best New Director Nominated [95]
22nd Buil Film Awards Nominated [96][97]
34th Blue Dragon Film Awards Best Director Nominated [98]
50th Grand Bell Awards Best Director Nominated [99][100]
Best Screenplay Nominated
Sitges Film Festival Focus Asia Award Won [101]
2016 36th Golden Cinematography Awards Best Director The Tiger Won [102]
Best Screenplay Won
53rd Grand Bell Awards Nominated [103]
2017 Fantastic Fest 2017 Best Director - Thriller Features V.I.P Won [104]
2019 39th Fantasporto Film Festival Best Film Orient Express The Witch: Part 1. The Subversion Won [105]
26th Gérardmer International Fantastic Film Festival Syfy Jury Prize Won [106]
2021 42nd Blue Dragon Film Awards Best Director Night in Paradise Nominated [107]
2022 Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival Golden Raven The Witch: Part 2. The Other One Nominated [108]

State honors Edit

Name of country, award ceremony, year given, and name of honor
Country Award Ceremony Year Honor Ref.
Jeju Special Self-Governing Province Ceremony at The Jeju Indoor Video Studio located in Jeoji Culture and Art Village 2023 Honorary Citizen [109]

See also Edit

Notes Edit

  1. ^ Hosted by Arena Homme Plus Magazine

References Edit

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  3. ^ Park, Eun-jee (8 February 2013). "Three macho guys find a balance in Park Hoon-jung's latest thriller". Korea JoongAng Daily. Archived from the original on 16 February 2013. Retrieved 2013-02-11.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
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  9. ^ Park Geum-ja. ""제2회 싸이더스HQ 시놉시스를 공모합니다"" ["We are colluding for the 2nd Cydus HQ Synopsis"]. (in Korean). Retrieved 2023-05-21.
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  27. ^ Hong, Lucia (1 September 2011). "Several Korean movies invited to int'l film fest in Russia". 10Asia. Retrieved 2012-11-18.
  28. ^ Hong, Lucia (17 October 2011). "Several Korean movies score wins at Spain film festival". 10Asia. Retrieved 2012-11-18.
  29. ^ Hong, Lucia (26 October 2011). "SHINee to perform at the London Korean Film Festival next month". 10Asia. Retrieved 2012-11-18.
  30. ^ Hong, Lucia (9 April 2012). "8 Korean pics invited to 14th Udine Far East Film Festival in Italy". 10Asia. Retrieved 2012-11-18.
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  32. ^ "박훈정 감독 '혈투' 초안은 지금과 많이 달랐다" [Director Park Hoon-jung's draft of 'Blood' was very different from now.]. 아주경제 (in Korean). 2011-02-22. Retrieved 2023-05-01.
  33. ^ a b "'신세계' 감독 박훈정 "정치하는 깡패들 통해 권력이 뭔지 묻고 싶었죠"" [Park Hoon-jung, director of 'Shinsegae', "I wanted to ask what power is through political thugs"]. (in Korean). 2013-03-22. Retrieved 2023-02-19.
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  35. ^ a b Kim, Hyun-min (7 January 2013). "NEW WORLD Is a New Kind of Korean Crime Drama". Korean Film Council. Retrieved 13 January 2013.
  36. ^ Suk, Monica (22 June 2012). "A-list Korean actors gears up to bring new film noir action pic". 10Asia. Retrieved 13 January 2013.
  37. ^ Son, Jin-ah (20 September 2012). "'New World' cranked up". Retrieved 13 January 2013.
  38. ^ Catsoulis, Jeannette (21 March 2013). "In South Korea, Gangsters in Good Suits". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 March 2013.
  39. ^ "New World (2013) Blu-Ray Review". 2018-01-16. Retrieved 2023-05-02.
  40. ^ "이제는 사라진 조선 호랑이를 위하여" [For the Joseon tiger that has disappeared now]. Cine21 (씨네21) (in Korean). 2014-07-08. Retrieved 2023-05-01.
  41. ^ Jeong, Hyun-mok; Kim, Hyo-eun (2015-12-25). "[매거진M] '히말라야' 이석훈 VS '대호' 박훈정…대작으로 맞붙은 두 감독" [[magn.M] 'Himalaya' Lee Seok-hoon VS 'Daeho' Park Hoon-jung... Two directors who faced each other as a masterpiece]. 중앙일보 (in Korean). Retrieved 2023-05-01.
  42. ^ a b "'대호' 박훈정 감독 호랑이 CG, 할리우드의 11분의 1 [MD인터뷰①]" ['Daeho' Park Hoon-jung Director Tiger CG, 1/11 in Hollywood [MD interview①]]. 2015-12-21. Retrieved 2023-02-20.
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External links Edit