Recognizing the power of Korean filmA new milestone has been reached in the 100-year history of Korea movies. At the 75th annual Cannes Film Festival that closed Saturday, actor Song Kang-ho received the Best Actor Award for “Broker” and director Park Chan-wook took the Best Director Award for “Decision to Leave.” The twin achievements at the film festival are the first of their kind, although they recall director Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite” winning the Palme d’Or in 2019 following actress Jeon Do-yean’s receipt of the Best Actress Award for “Milyang” in 2007.
This is a great honors for Korean movies and demonstrated the full blossoming of our films after years of persistent experiments with diverse themes and genres. In particular, actor Song Kang-ho’s Best Actor Award shone. Invited to the film festival for the seventh time since his appearance in “The Host” in 2006, Song has emerged as a favorite of the Cannes Film Festival. In “Broker,” he was acclaimed for his delicate performance as a seller of abandoned babies. Director Park Chan-wook has lifted his third trophy since he was awarded them for “Oldboy” in 2004 and “Thirst” in 2009. The successive awards for Korean movies manifest the remarkable achievements the Korean film industry has made over the past decades.
“Broker” and “Decision to Leave” proved the endless evolution of Korean films. This carries special meaning as the two movies helped expand the boundaries of K-Cinema. “Broker” was directed by Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda, the awardee for the Palme d’Or in 2018, and “Decision to Leave” was directed by Park Chan-wook and starred by Tang Wei, a Chinese actress famous for her performance in “Lust, Caution” (2007). The two movies were Korean movies produced by Korean capital but also multinational productions involving Korea, China and Japan.
The latest achievement has reaffirmed the global power of K-content that can impress the world thanks to the continuous investment in movies and their development. The accomplishment also has pointed to the direction our movie industry must go. The clues can be found in Park Chan-wook’s hopes for “further revitalization of exchanges such as the ones made in Europe in the 1960s to create quality international movies” and Song Kang-ho’s praise of the “Korean movies’ effort to challenge for change in a dynamic way.”
The marvelous achievements have also highlighted some challenges facing Korean movies. What counts most is the building of movie infrastructure to produce young directors, actors and actresses who can take the baton from famous directors and actors like Im Kwon-taek, Lee Chang-dong, Park Chan-wook, Bong Joon-ho and Song Kang-ho. We look forward to seeing a beautiful revival of Korean movies hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. We congratulate the artists recognized by the Cannes Film Festival.