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Director Park Chan-Wook, Surprises the World with a Smartphone!

“Late night, a fisherman fishing at a riverside catches a woman in a white gown. When the woman, who seems dead, wakes up, the most extraordinary things start to happen.”

This is the story of the movie ‘Paranmanjang(Night Fishing),’ released in January. Directed and produced by Park Chan-Wook and Park Chan-Kyong , ‘Paranmanjang(Night Fishing)’ won the Gold Bear for Best Short Film at the 61st Berlin International Film Festival, along with ‘Broken Night’ directed by Yang Hyo-Joo receiving Silver Bear. It is the first time for a Korean short film to win such awards at an internationally renowned film festival such as Cannes, Venice, and Berlin.

The cast of 'Knight Fishing' with the brother directors, Chan Wook Park (left) and Chan Kyoung Park (right)
(The cast of ‘Paranmanjang(Knight Fishing)‘ with the brother directors, Park Chan-Wook (left) and Park Chan-Kyong (right))

The movie that opened the world to ‘Smartphone Movie’— ‘Night Fishing’

Park Chan-Wook received the Grand Prix at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival for ‘Old Boy,’ and the Jury Prize at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival for ‘Thirst’ And yet again, he receives another award. Working also as a media artist, Park Chan-Kyong directed a documentary movies ‘Sindoan’ and ‘Flight’ in 2008.

One of the scenes from ‘Night Fishing’
(One of the scenes from ‘Paranmanjang(Night Fishing)’)

The short film ‘Paranmanjang(Night Fishing)’ was directed in collaboration by the Park brothers, Park Chan-Wook and Park Chan-Kyong. And the entire movie was shot on a smartphone. In the history of smartphone movies, it was the first one to be released in movie theatres and to receive an internationally renowned award. And in the history of Korean short films, it was the first one to receive an international award. Among the twenty five films invited for the short film category, it was praised for directing technique, story value, shooting effects, and visual technique, as well as visual style—which were all unbelievably done by nothing other than a smartphone. Of course, the enthusiastic acting done by actor Gwang Rock Oh and singer and actor Lee Jung Hyun, took a part in winning the award.

As the movie shot on a smartphone received the greatest award in the Berlinale Shorts Section of the Berlin International Film Festival, smartphone movies are now rising as the new trend of movie making techniques domestically and globally. I think it has already started in Korea. As an example, Jeonju International Film Festival Committee has created a new section, called “JIFF Phone Film Festival,” which is short for films shot on smartphones.

(The poster for JIFF Phone Film Festival)
(The poster for JIFF Phone Film Festival)

It’s been created for the search of movie making on a cell phone and for finding new possibilities in the movies shot by cell phones. The committee explains that it would open a new chapter for communication that enables anyone to make and share movies, and I think it suggests a lot.

Anyway, the Korean movie world has taken the first step in “smartphone movies,” which will take one definite part in movie making, and having been praised by other global professionals, makes me and everyone else proud.

On the other hand, the movie, “Broken Night,” is the one supported by “Busan Digital Cinema Project Sponsor Business.” On the way back home, after committing another fraud, an insurance defrauder gets in a real accident, and the story unfolds. It received favorable comments for quality of completion in the story development.

Competitiveness of the Korean movies?

Then, to which level does the competitiveness of the Korean movies reach? According to the statistics of the Korean movie business, created by the Korean Film Council, seven Korean movies had their places in the Box Office Top Ten, even with the general decrease in the number of the moviegoers— “The Man from Nowhere,” 2nd place with 618 million moviegoers; “Secret Reunion,” 4th place with 541 million; “Woochi,” 6th place with 361 million; “Moss,” 7th place with 335 million; “71:Into the Fire,” 8th place with 333 million; “Harmony,” 9th place with 301 million; and “The Servant,” 10th place with 298 million. For Hollywood movies, there was “Avatar,” at 1st place with 830 million moviegoers; “Inception,” 3rd place with 583 million; and “Iron Man,” 5th place with 442 million. These statistics shows that the moviegoers have a deep trust and positive response toward the Korean movies.

(Images from “The Man from Nowhere,” (above) and “Secret Union.”)
Secret Union Song Kang-ho
(Images from “The Man from Nowhere,” (above) and “Secret Union”)

Last year, the revenue from exporting Korean movies was $1358 million, which is about the same as the year 2009 and the amount for the new contracts decreased by 5.8%, but the additional profits increased by 54%. So the overall decrease shows to be only 3.82%. Regionally, Asia took the biggest part until the year 2009, it decreased by 34.4%, whereas Europe increased by 72.1%, and America 59.4%.

One point to pay attention to is the movie contents being exported to the Central and South America has increased by 9.4% due to the Korean wave, including K-Pop and Korean dramas. Owing much to these circumstances, the last year was the year that we found possibilities of creating a new way for Korean movies to succeed in the Americas.

Nowadays, in the Korean movie world, the hot topic is exporting the various forms of movie services from the planning and making a movie to the techniques and man power area such as CG/VFX/3D. Last year, the amount of exports in this area was 2.863 billion dollars, which was higher than that of the completed movies. It definitely shines bright on the path of the movie business.

Of course, to be equipped for competitiveness in the global market, the Korean movie world needs to globalize their techniques and man power area and improve the constitution of the Korean movie business. But, I see the future of the Korean movie business in a step-by-step growth, and it makes me happy. :)

*NOTE: This blog post is from The Presidential Council on Nation Branding’s Official blog ‘Korea brand blog’, on March 8 , 2011. If you have any further information about this blog post please contact us.( We will be happy to help you to get the related information. Thank you.

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About the author by Official Korea Brand blog

Official Korea Brand blog was launched by The Presidential Council on Nation Branding (PCNB) on August 24, 2009. The most important mission of the PCNB is to inform the world about Korea. The PCNB is dedicated to promoting Korea's image as a country that contributes to international society, a country that produces world-class products and services, and a country that respects other cultures.

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