Chan-wook Park

Chan-wook Park

Active - 1992 - 2022  |   Born - Aug 23, 1963   |   Genres - Drama, Thriller, Romance

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Biography by AllMovie

A versatile stylist with an aesthetic that straddles the line between the idiosyncratic and the mainstream, Park Chan-wook is best known for his 2000 film Joint Security Area, a powerful story about a murder along the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea that became the biggest box-office hit in the history of Korean cinema. (It was later supplanted by the action film Shiri, which also dealt with North-South relations.) Park's interest in film began in college at Sogang University, where he started the "film gang" club and published a number of critical studies on contemporary cinema. After graduating from the Department of Philosophy, he began working in the film industry as an assistant director to Gwak Jae-young on A Sketch of a Rainy Day (1988). In 1992, he directed his first feature, The Moon Is...the Sun's Dream, a gangster drama, and shifted gears into comedy with 1997's Trio, a romp about three pals on the run from the law. Neither of these films gained much recognition, but his next film, Joint Security Area, struck a nerve with Korean audiences, partly because it was released at a time when relations between the North and South Korean governments were beginning to thaw, but also because it's a well-made, extremely moving film. Rather than following his success with something similar, Park once again changed direction with his next movie, the kidnapping drama Sympathy for Mister Vengeance (2002). With its heavy doses of excruciating violence and a set of characters bent on destroying one another, it's a much more disturbing film than his previous efforts. While it is very different from Joint Security Area, it does make a similar point about how easily "normal" people can be driven to perform horrific acts. Even though he is now one of Korea's most commercially successful directors, he still finds time to collaborate with other filmmakers, co-writing and co-editing Park Chan-ok's 2002 debut feature, Jealousy Is My Middle Name.

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