South Korean cinema has been having a moment lately, fueled by the success of films like “Parasite” and blockbuster television shows such as “Squid Game.” But in the midst of all the attention, one legendary Korean filmmaker has been relatively absent from pop culture lately: Park Chan-wook. The “Oldboy” director has not made a film since 2016’s “The Handmaiden,” although he did direct the miniseries “Little Drummer Girl” in 2018.
But Park is about to come roaring back. Movie lovers will soon see the auteur return to cinema’s with the upcoming “Decision to Leave,” which tells the story of a detective investigating a mysterious death in the mountains when he happens to encounter the dead man’s wife. He’ll follow the highly anticipated film with “The Sympathizer,” a new HBO series from A24 based on Viet Tanh Nguyen’s 2016 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. Robert Downey Jr. is set to play multiple roles in the espionage series, with Park directing all episodes.
But between all of that, the director found time to shoot his latest project, “Life is But a Dream.” The 21-minute short, produced in collaboration with Apple, was shot entirely on an iPhone 13 Pro, and was just released on the tech company’s YouTube page. The whimsical film tells the story of an undertaker (Yoo Hai-jin) whose attempt to steal a coffin ends up awakening a ghost (Park Jeong-min). That ghost ends up bonding with the ghost of the warrior (Kim Ok-vin) the undertaker was trying to bury. The film takes some unexpected terms, and ends up being a supernatural romance, a musical, and a martial arts film in equal measures.
In an online press conference promoting the film, Park praised the experience of working with Apple and said that he enjoys the flexibility that comes with making short films. “It’s not easy to dive deeper into genre experiments in a full-length feature film because it costs a lot of money and there is a lot of pressure,” he said. “When making short films, I have creative freedom.”
Park is no stranger to shooting on iPhones, having used the Apple product for his Berlin-winning short film “Night Fishing.” He credits the positive experience of making that film with his continued interest in making shorts, saying “in 2011, my brother (Park Chan-kyong) and I made a 33-minutes long film ‘Night Fishing’ on an iPhone 4. I have great memories about working on a short film, and they motivate me to keep making more short films.”
You can watch Park Chan-wook’s “Life is But a Dream” below.
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