Park Chan-wook

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 his native country, 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).

Park Chan-wook
Park Chan-wook in 2013
Born (1963-08-23) August 23, 1963
Other namesBakridamae (박리다매)
OccupationFilm director, Screenwriter, Producer, Film Critic
Years active1992–present
Awards Bogwan Order of Cultural Merit (2004), Grand Prix (Cannes Film Festival) (2004)
Korean name
Revised RomanizationBak Chanuk
McCune–ReischauerPak Ch'anuk

He is also known for his English-language works Stoker (2013) and The Little Drummer Girl (2018), a television miniseries based on the novel of the same name by John le Carré.

His films have gained notoriety for their immaculate framing, black humor and often brutal subject matters.[1][2]

Early life

Park was born and raised in Seoul[3] 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).[4]


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.[5]

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.[6] 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.[7] Lady Vengeance was distributed by Tartan Films for the United States theatrical release in April 2006.[8] 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).[9] 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 a May 2004 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Park listed Sophocles, Shakespeare, Kafka, Dostoevsky, Balzac and Kurt Vonnegut as influences on his career.[10]

Since 2004, Park has been an owner of the filmmaking company Moho Film, which participated in the production of Snowpiercer (2013) and The Handmaiden (2016).

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.[11]

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.[12]

In 2011, Park said his new fantasy-horror film Paranmanjang (Night Fishing) was shot entirely on the iPhone.[13] 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.[14] He said he learned to accelerate the production process and completed filming in 480 hours.[12] Although Park does speak English, he used an interpreter on set.[12] 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".[15][12] 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.[16]

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.[17]

In September 2014, it was announced that Park would adapt Fingersmith, a historical crime novel by Sarah Waters.[18] The film entered production in mid-2015 and ended on 31 October 2015.[19] 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).[20] 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.[21][22]

In October 2014, it was announced that Park had signed on to direct the sci-fi body-swap film, Second Born.[23]

In January 2018, it was reported 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.[24]

Park is regarded as one of the most popular film directors in Korea today, with three of his feature films (Joint Security Area, Oldboy and Lady Vengeance) each drawing audiences of over three million.

Personal life

Park was raised in a devout Catholic family in Korea, and describes himself as an atheist.[25][26] 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.[25]



Year Film Credited as
Director Writer Producer
1992The Moon Is... the Sun's Dream Yes Yes No
1997Trio Yes Yes No
2000Anarchists No Yes No
Joint Security Area Yes Yes No
2001The Humanist No Yes No
2002Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance Yes Yes No
A Bizarre Love Triangle No Yes No
2003Oldboy Yes Yes No
2005Lady Vengeance Yes Yes No
Boy Goes to Heaven No Yes No
2006I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK Yes Yes Yes
2008Crush and Blush No Yes Yes
2009Thirst Yes Yes Yes
2013Stoker Yes No No
Snowpiercer No No Yes
2016The Handmaiden Yes Yes Yes
The Truth Beneath No Yes No


Year Title Credited as Notes
Director Writer Producer
2018The Little Drummer Girl Yes No Executive 6 episodes

Short films

Year Film Credited as
Director Writer Producer
1999Judgment Yes Yes Yes
2003If You Were Me (segment "Never Ending Peace And Love") Yes Yes No
2004Three... Extremes (segment "Cut") Yes Yes No
2011Night Fishing Yes* Yes Yes
60 Seconds of Solitude in Year Zero (segment from "Cut") Yes Yes No
2013Day Trip Yes* Yes No
V (music video for Lee Jung-hyun) Yes* Yes No
2014A Rose Reborn Yes Yes No

* directed with his brother Park Chan-kyong


Year Event Award Title
2001 Deauville Asian Film Festival Lotus Award for Best Film Joint Security Area
Seattle International Film Festival New Director's Showcase Special Jury Prize
2002 Blue Ribbon Awards, Japan Best Foreign Language Film
Seattle International Film Festival Emerging Masters Showcase Award N/A
2003 Fantasia Festival, Montreal Best Asian Film Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance
Philadelphia Film Festival Jury Award for Best Feature Film
2004 Cannes Film Festival Grand Prix Oldboy
Asia Pacific Film Festival Best Director
Bergen International Film Festival Audience Award
Grand Bell Awards, South Korea Best Director
Sitges Catalan International Film Festival Best Film
Stockholm International Film Festival Audience Award
2005 Bangkok International Film Festival Golden Kinnaree Award for Best Director
Venice Film Festival CinemAvvenire Award Lady Vengeance
2006 Bangkok International Film Festival Golden Kinnaree Award for Best Director
Fantasporto, Portugal Orient Express Section Grand Prize for Best Film
Sarasota Film Festival Audience Award for Best in World Cinema
2007 Berlin International Film Festival Alfred Bauer Award I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK
Montréal Festival of New Cinema Z Tele Grand Prize Feature Film Award
Sitges Catalan International Film Festival Best Screenplay
2008 Fantasporto, Portugal International Fantasy Film Award - Special Mention
2009 Cannes Film Festival Jury Prize Thirst
2011 Berlin Film Festival Golden Bear for Best Short Film Night Fishing
2016 Boston Society of Film Critics Awards Best Foreign Language Film The Handmaiden
Buil Film Awards Buil Readers' Jury Award
Chicago Film Critics Association Awards Best Adapted Screenplay
Best Foreign Language Film
Dallas–Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards Best Foreign Language Film
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards Best Foreign Language Film
New York Film Critics Online Best Foreign Language Film
San Francisco Film Critics Circle Awards Best Foreign Language Film
Houston Film Critics Society Awards Best Foreign Language Film
2017 KOFRA Film Awards Film Industry Figure of the Year
Baeksang Arts Awards Grand Prize (Film)
Saturn Awards Best International Film
2018 71st British Academy Film Awards Best Film Not in the English Language
2019 Geneva International Film Festival Film & Beyond Award[27] N/A
Oslo Films from the South Festival Silver Mirror[28] N/A

Recurring cast in Park Chan-wook's films


  • 2005. Park's Montage (박찬욱의 몽타주). 마음 산책. 299 pages. ISBN 89-89351-81-2.[29][30]
  • 2005. Park's Hommage (박찬욱의 오마주). 마음 산책. 528 pages. ISBN 89-89351-82-0.[31][32]

See also


  1. "Watch: Bold, Beautiful 7-Minute Supercut Tribute To The Films Of Park Chan-Wook". Retrieved 2017-03-10.
  2. "Cannes 09: Park Chan-Wook's 'Thirst' Is An Absurdist Treat That Becomes Muddled; Overstays Its Welcome". Retrieved 2017-03-10.
  3. Chan-wook, Park. (2005-12-10). Park's Montage (essay). 마음 산책. "Introduction about the author, and the prologue". ISBN 89-89351-81-2.
  4. Kim, Young-jin (2007). PARK Chan-wook. Seoul Selection.
  5. "A.V. Club interview with Park Chan-wook". Retrieved 28 August 2009.
  6. "Yellow Sea Rising: The Resurrection of South Korean Cinema". Archived from the original on 2010-06-09. Retrieved 30 August 2009.
  7. McConkey, Rachael. "Contemporary South Korean Auteurs". Archived from the original on 27 April 2009. Retrieved 7 May 2008.
  8. "Palisades Tartan unleashes the 8-Disc VENGEANCE TRILOGY Box". Archived from the original on 15 October 2009. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  9. "The New Cult Canon: Oldboy". October 1, 2008. Retrieved 28 August 2009.
  10. "Dialogue: Park Chan-wook". The Hollywood Reporter. May 14, 2004. Retrieved 2007-07-14.
  11. "China's Tuya's Marriage wins Berlin film festival". 17 February 2007. Archived from the original on 8 April 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-07.
  12. Lee, Rachel (29 March 2012). "Park Chan-wook stalks a thriller with 'Stoker'". Korea JoongAng Daily. Archived from the original on 18 April 2012. Retrieved 1 April 2012.
  13. "'Oldboy' director shoots new horror film on iPhone 4". CNN. 11 January 2011. Retrieved 11 January 2011.
  14. Kay, Jeremy (1 September 2011). "Shooting begins on Stoker for Scott Free, Searchlight, Indian Paintbrush". Screen Daily. Retrieved 2 September 2011.
  15. STOKER Featurette: "Director's Vision". YouTube. FoxSearchlight. 5 March 2013. Retrieved 29 November 2016.
  16. "Korean Film Festival DC 2013". 28 February 2013. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  17. Akande, Zainab. "Watch: Park Chan-wook's Fashionista Thriller Starring Jack Huston and Jason Wu - IndieWire". Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  18. Kim, Nemo (3 September 2014). "Park Chan-wook to Shoot Sexy Crime Story 'Fingersmith'". Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  20. "Ah-ga-ssi". Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  21. "The Handmaiden (Ah-Ga-Ssi)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 26 February 2019.
  22. "The Handmaiden". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved 26 February 2019.
  23. "Park Chan-wook Signs On For Body-Swapping Sci-Fi Thriller". ScreenCrush. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  24. "Michael Shannon Joins Park Chan-Wook's AMC Series 'The Little Drummer Girl'". Collider. 25 January 2018. Retrieved 29 May 2018.
  25. Dale, Martin (10 December 2015). "Park Chan-wook Talks About Next Pic The Handmaiden". Variety. Retrieved 23 November 2018.
  26. Murphy, Mekado (30 July 2009). "Faith and Fangs: An Interview With Park Chan-wook". Artbeats. Retrieved 21 April 2019. 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."
  27. "Sutradara Park Chan-wook Raih Penghargaan di Festival Film Internasional Jenewa". KBS World Radio (in Indonesian). November 6, 2019. Retrieved November 11, 2019.
  28. "Sutradara Korsel, Park Chang-wook Raih Penghargaan Kehormatan di Festival Film Norwegia". KBS World Radio (in Indonesian). November 8, 2019. Retrieved November 11, 2019.
  29. "박찬욱의 몽타주". Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  30. "박찬욱의 몽타주". Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  31. "박찬욱의 오마주". Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  32. "박찬욱의 오마주". Retrieved 6 November 2017.
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