Chan-wook Park

(Copyright © 2012 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )

6.0 The Moon Is the Sun's Dream (1992)
5.0 Trio (1997)
6.8 Joint Security Area (2000)
8.0 Sympathy for Mr Vengeance (2002)
7.9 Oldboy (2003)
6.8 Lady Vengeance (2005)
7.3 I'm a Cyborg but that's OK (2006)
6.5 Thirst (2009)
6.0 Night Fishing (2011)
7.0 Stoker (2013)
6.8 The Handmaiden (2016)
7.3 Haeojil Gyeolsim/ Decision To Leave (2022)

Chan-wook Park (Korea, 1963) debuted with the gangster noir Daleun Haega Kkuneun Kkum/ The Moon Is the Sun's Dream (1992), followed by the comedy Trio (1997). The anti-war melodrama Gongdonggyeongbiguyeok Jeieseuei/ Joint Security Area (2000) was his first commercial success. The film opens in the middle of the night, and we hear two shots. Then we learn from a radio broadcast that two North Korean soldiers have been killed at the border with South Korea, and tensions are rising. A Swiss-Korean woman arrives, Sophie, dispatched from Switzerland to investigate the case. A superior tells the woman that she is not in charge of finding who killed the North Koreans but why: they have already apprehended the killer. The killer is a South Korean soldier, sergeant Lee, who claims that he was kidnapped by the North and killed those two soldiers when he fled back to the South. A gunfight erupted as his South Korean buddies rescued him. He seems to be under shock and doesn't like to talk about the events. Sophie travels to the North and is showed the cadavers of the two killed soldiers. She notices that one was killed at close range, typical of revenge murders, and the other one was shot several more times when he was already dead. She also visits the North Korean soldier who survived, Oh, and who claims that Lee stormed the North Korean building and killed everybody. Sophie confronts Lee again and notices a mismatch in the number of bullets fired by Lee's gun and the number of bullets retrieved. Sophie interrogates Lee's girlfriend, whose brother Nam is a soldier in the same unit and took part in the rescue mission. Nam, asked to take a lie-detector test, tries to kill himself jumping from a window.
A flashback shows us what happened between Oh and Lee. A group of tourists is escorted at the border. A woman's hat flies away. A kind North Korean guard hands her back the hat. Another tourist takes pictures of the border guards. One night Lee got stuck in a minefield and ran into Oh and another North Korean soldier. Oh risked his life to save Oh. Oh and Lee ran into each other again when they respective units faced each other in a snowstorm. Lee threw a message to Oh over the border line, and Oh responded the same way, throwing messages over the border. Eventually, Lee broke the law and simply crossed into the North to secretly meet with Oh and another North Korean, Jeong, who comically had a dog that was refusing to cross the border into the South, where it would have more food. We know that Jeong is the one who was shot eight times in the back. The two North Koreans were impressed by his courage. Lee returned and eventually brought along his best friend Nam. Lee, Nam, Oh and Jeong became close friends, despite being able to meet only at night and in secret. During the day they kept facing each other like ferocious enemies. One night the sirens sounded the alarm in the South Korean barracks because Northern troops were amassing along the border. The South suspected an imminent attack. Nonetheless, Lee and Nam decided to risk again and cross the border in secret to celebrate Jeong's birthday. This time, in the middle of the moving celebration, they were discovered by Oh's superior.
Back to the present, Lee suddenly attacks Sophie and tries to strangle her, for no apparent reason. Sophie summons both Lee and Oh and confronts them together. Oh shows up with a North Korean escort. Oh still maintains that Lee attacked the North Korean post. Sophies shows them a video of Nam attempting suicide. We learn that Nam is in a coma. Lee starts crying and seems about to break down. Oh attacks him as if he hates him and shouts North Korean slogans. Just then Sophie is relieved of her job: her superior has learned that her father was a North Korean general during the Korean War who fled to Argentina and married a Swiss woman. The real reason for her removal is that her investigation is not welcome because it demoralizes the soldiers. Sophie confronts Lee one more time. She has discovered that Jeong had made a portrait of Lee's girlfriend, therefore she now knows that Lee knew the North Koreans whom he shot.
The flashback resumes to the point when Oh's superior discovered Lee and Nam with Oh and Jeong. Oh tried to defuse the situation but Nam lost control and shot the superior. A shootout erupted during which Nam shot Jeong repeatedly, while Oh never used his gun. Oh shot only once: he shot his own superior who was still alive. It was Oh who architected the false story of Lee being kidnapped. Oh asked Lee to shoot him in the arm in order to make it more credible. Lee and Nam ran across the bridge back to the South, but Nam hid and the South Korean rescuers only saw Lee. South and North Korean soldiers battled ferociously and Lee was "rescued".
Back to the present, Sophie is chatting with Oh, who is now admitting the truth. Oh gives Sophie a lighter (a gift he received from Lee) to give it to Lee, as a message. Sophie returns to the South and delivers the lighter to Lee. She also tells him that Oh is certain that it wasn't Nam who killed Jeong: Lee, panicking, shot first and kill Jeong, and Nam simply shot eight times a man who was already dead. So it was Lee who killed his North Korean friend Jeong. Sophie leaves. Lee grabs a gun and shoots himself. It turns out that a tourist who took a picture of the border had taken a picture of all four of them: Lee, Nam, Oh and Jeong.

Boksuneun Naui Geot / Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002), the first film in the "revenge trilogy", co-scripted with Seo-kyeong Jeong, is a mutant film that slowly morphs into the lethal duel between two men who belong to two different social classes, but straddling the border between vulgar farce and metaphysical concept and appropriating stereotypes of melodrama, detective and horror movies. Not content with contrasting two desperate men who feel cheated by fate, Park exponentially increases the doses of violence and shock as the story progresses, turning their duel into an apocalypse of civilization. By the end the political/philosophical story has turned into a carnival of revolting images. The dual protagonists (one because is mentally slow and the other one because he's a greedy businessman) live in moral universe where only the most primordial emotions survive (sister, daughter) and anything else is allowed. Via a cascade of original unpredictable shots from all sorts of perspectives and in a fractured rhythm, as well as a knack for disturbingly elliptic scenes, Park plays with the psychology of the viewer, creating love/hate emotions for each character that turn upside down along the way. There is also an obvious political parable hidden in the story: one of the two is a ruthless capitalist who fires workers, indifferent to their struggles, and is punished by losing his most precious belonging (his daughter), but then he tortures one anarchist to death and kills and cuts to pieces the deafmute worker (this all sounds allegorical), and is eventually executed by the anarchists (read: in the name of the people who suffered at his hands). Therefore it is also, in a sense, a grotesque agit-prop allegory. At the same time there is also punishment for the working class, as the jobless deafmute loses his most valuable belonging (his sister) after committing a crime against the capitalist; and the capitalist will eventually cut his body into pieces (after telling him "i know that you are a good man"), as if it were the inevitable logic of class struggle.

A deaf-mute with dyed green hair, Ryu, trains his skills at the baseball bat. He is a worker in a factory owned by a rich industrialist. Anarchist post political flyers in a male's bathroom. obsessed with boy kidney transplant to save sister He lives with a sister who is very ill. Ironically, her moans of pain are misunderstood on the other side of the wall as organism, and the four kids who share the apartment next door masturbate together while listening to her. Ryu hardly pays attention to his sister: she has been sick for a long time. Her problem is that she needs a kidney transplant and there is no donor. Ryu tried in vain to offer his own: he doesn't have the same blood type. One day Ryu is told by his manager that he has been fired, something that Ryu does not seem to fully understand at first. Later he follows two men to the top of a building under construction to an old woman's improvised office. They are in the business of buying and selling kidneys illegally. She is a drug addict whose hand shakes so badly that Ryu has to help her with her shot of heroin. He wants to trade his own kidney for a kidney of the type her sister needs, and he is willing to offer all his savings too. He wakes up hours later, naked, alone, with a scar on the side of his body: they stole his kidney and his money. He runs out naked and hitchhikes on the highway to get back home. Now he has no money. His girlfriend Young-mi, who belongs to the anarchist organization (and is not deaf-mute at all), gets mad at him, but comes up with a different plan: kidnap the child of the industrialist. After all, he's the one who caused the problem by firing him. Ryu reluctantly accepts, or maybe just takes a while to understand her logic.
Meanwhile, the industrialist is driving his limousine when suddenly a former employee whom he fired throws himself under his car. The camera shows us the scene as viewed from the asphalt, the poor man looking up at the industrialist, his friend and their children. The worker is desperate, he has spent his life working as a welder and doesn't know how else to feed his family. As the industrialist ignores his rant, the man pulls out a knife and cuts his belly in front of them. The industrialist and is friend eventually manage to take the knife from him and stop him before he kills himself. Ryu and his girlfriend watched the scene. They have been following the girl and are now ready to strike. It is easy to kidnap her at the playground and make her feel comfortable at home, where she mostly watches cartoons on tv. Ryun does not hesitate to make her cry in order to take a heartbreaking picture of her to blackmail her father, but at the same time asks Young-mi not to mention the girl's mother. The girl knows that her parents are divorced but doesn't know of a car accident for which her mother is being hospitalized.
Following cell phone instructions, her father walks to an appointment with Ryu carrying a briefcase full of ransom money. Ryu attacks him from behind, covers his face in a garbage bag, ties him to a pole and leaves with the briefcase. Ryu returns home happy but finds a suicide note that his sister gave to the little girl: his sister committed suicide in the bathtub. Ryu is devastated by grief. The industrialist spends the night tied to the post, a dog barking at him, nobody hearing his screams for help.
Ryu loads his sister's corpse in the car and, with the crying girl in the back, drives to the pond where they used to play as children. He patiently buries his sister under a thousand stones while the girl is asleep in the car. The only witness is a crippled mentally handicapped boy who scares the girl when he tries to steal her necklace. Awaken and afraid, the girl walks to the pond's edge looking for Ryu, who is weeping in front of his sister's grave, and falls in the water. Ryu is terrified and cannot save her. The cripple simply walks towards her dead body and steals her necklace. Ryu brings the girl's body back to shore.
When the body is discovered, the industrialist tells the police that he can think of no enemies, which is obviously false as we know that he fired many workers, each of which hates him. He then witnesses the gruesome surgical autopsy on his daughter's body. We are shown the cremation of the little girl shown inside the cremation chamber and even inside the casket. Later the businessman alone in his wealthy mansion sees the ghost of his daughter. The police investigate and tracks down Ryu's apartment, but Ryu has disappeared. The industrialist finally tells the police detective that he suspects the man who made the scene in front of his car. They go to his poor dilapidated shanty and discover that the man has killed himself and his entire family. Their bodies are already decomposing but one child is still alive. The businessman stares speechless to the scene and then follows the child to the hospital. However, the doctor gives the child no chance to survive.
Ryu and his girlfriend gesture at each other in the sign language of the deafmute while they have sex.
The industrialist visits Ryu's flat again. The four kids next door are listening to the radio loud enough that he can hear what the radio is broadcasting. The radio host is reading a note that is unmistakably by Ryu. The industrialist rushes to the radio station and the radio host shows him a drawing depicting both the burial of the sister and the little girl floating lifeless in the pond. The industrialist finds the pondas, as shown in the drawings, he finds the grave of Ryu's sister, whose body is already being eaten by worms. As he starts moving the thousand stones that Ryu piled on the body, the crippled boy comes to help and the father recognizes his daughter's necklace.
What follows is a virtuoso sequence of three interlocked conversations: a hospital girl died because she received a cheap kidney (presumably the one stolen from Ryu); Ryu's girlfriend is making phone calls to track down the criminals and she asks him what he wants to do with them; the industrialist answers the same question that someone asked him over the phone with a "kill them". The businessman wants his revenge on Ryu and Ryu wants his revenge on the thieves.
Finally Ryu's girlfriend finds the old lady who runs the kidney racket. Ryu buys a baseball bat. Then he launches his attack using that weapon. He takes out one of the men when he opens the door, then the other one who is just about to rape an anaesthetised girl. This one collapses to the floor with his pants down, twicthing, gushing blood. Ryu even smashes the bodies repeatedly with the baseball bat in front of the lady (possibly their mother) and doesn't realize that she is walking towards him holding a knife.
Back home, however, his girlfriend is being tortured by the industrialist with electrical current. He covers her in a sheet and then sends electrical shocks. She refuses to tell him where Ryu is. The bell rings but it's just a delivery boy bringing food that she ordered. The businessman eats it calmly in front of her twitching body who is leaking fluids. Any pity we felt for his fatherly grief is gone. The girl mutters that she's a member of a terroris organization and they will come back to kill him. He shuts her up by giving her a final dose of electricity. The same cruel man later visits the dying child at the hospital, as if he intended to adopt him.
Ryu walks back home bleeding profusedly from the wound inflicted by the old lady. The police find Ryu's girlfriend. They know that she was a anarchic activist but believed she had no political partners. Ryu arrives when all the police cars and the ambulance are parked in front of the building. The boy who delivered food was also assassinated (probably because he saw the industrialist's face). Just then the police detective is informed that three people have been murdered elsewhere (Ryu's victims). Ryu gets out of elevator while the police get in. They hold his girlfriend's lifeless body up and he finds a way to hold her hand one last time.
Now it's a duel between Ryu and the father, each looking for the other no matter what, Ryu waiting in front of the father's house, the father waiting inside Ryu's apartment. The police, now on the carnage of the triple murder, call to warn the businessman that Ryu is a psycho: he he took the kidneys of his victims.
Tired, Ryu gives up and returns home where the businessman is waiting for him. Ryu sees him from the window: he is asleep on the floor. Ryu tries to open the door, but the businessman set up an electrical trap that shocks Ryu the moment he touches the handle. The industrialist drags the unconscious body inside. He furiously slaps the body, grabs a knife and is about to cut Ryu apart but then stops with a better idea. He drives back to the pond and drags Ryu (now conscious and shivering) to the middle of the pond. With water up to his chest, the rich man almost apologizes for killing the poor deafmute. In fact he even calls Ryu "a good man" but then pulls the knife and cuts his tendons so Ryu will drawn in terrible pain. Then he remains there to stare at the human being squirming in the water. Just then he receives a call from the hospital: the dead worker's child didn't make it. A cold female voice informs him that he can pick up the body from the mortuary. The man just started digging a grave for Ryu when a car pulls up. Four men get out and, without saying a word, knife him from all sides, the last one pinning a policital flyer to his chest. We hear again the girl's voice warning him about the terrorist cell. When they leave, he is still alive, trying to read the flyer in his last breath. Nearby are the bloody plastic bags in which he put Ryu's body parts.

Oldboy (2003), loosely on Garon Tsuchiya's and Nobuaki Minegishi's manga, is a Kafka-ian apologue in which a man is kept prisoner in a room for mysterious reasons for several years, and then he has to find out not so much the persecutor (whom he could kill easily) but the truth (why he was kept prisoner and why he was released). The revelation comes in a way reminiscent of the ancient Greek tragedy. The execution, though, is a masterly hybrid of high art and pulp fiction, with an acrobatic screenplay in which eventually all pieces of the puzzle fall into place. The allegorical surrealism of David Lynch's thrillers, the fatalistic existentialism of Sergio Leone's westerns and the brutal realism of Quentin Tarantino's gangster movies find an unlikely intersection.
The life of the protagonist is turned into an excruciating agony: a long imprisonment during which his mind seems to go mad because of not knowing the truth, and then a brief moment of freedom that ends up with the revelation of the truth by which his mind truly goes mad. In fact, he may have been better off remaining in that prison forever. Despite the frequent opportunities to turn the whole story into a virtual reality, the plot appears to be strictly linear.

A man, Dae-su, looking a bit wild, is holding a man by his necktie at the edge of a rooftop. It looks like Dae-su is torturing the other man.
The scene changes abruptly. Dae-su Oh is a businessman who gets drunk and is arrested by the police. When a friend finally gets him released, Daesu heads home for his daughter's birthday (his present being a pair of angel wings) but he never gets there. Someone kidnaps him and he wakes up in a well-furnished apartment. He never sees his captor's face. He has a tv set that broadcasts the news that "they" want him to hear: his wife has been murdered and he is the chief suspect. Years go by. He keeps track of the passing of time by tattooing cuts on his hand. When they want to tidy up the apartment or cut his hair, they release sleeping gas in the apartment so he falls asleep and doesn't see them. Fifteen years go by. He is trying to escape by digging a hole in the wall and estimates that he only has one more month to dig. One day a woman walks in and seems to use hypnosis to get him into another world. The instructions are that he has to look down and see a field of grass... Sure enough he wakes up inside a suitcase on a grassy rooftop. He behaves like a primordial man. The first human being he meets after fifteen years is a suicidal man who is ready to jump from the rooftop with his little dog. Daesu briefly holds him by the necktie (the first scene of the film: it wasn't Daesu torturing this man but Daesu trying to save his life). He then scares a girl who takes the same elevator and steals her sunglasses. As Dae-su calmly walks away, the suicidal man falls to his death on the roof of a car. A gang of juvenile delinquents confronts him and he can apply for the first time the "virtual" training that he received in the cell (the female hypnotist must have trained him in martial arts among other things).
He has no money and is wanted by the police. He sits on a bench and a stranger, who appears to be a drunk tramp, hands him a wallet and a phone. He walks into a Japanese restaurant and seems to recognize the waitress, and she seems to recognize him. His persecutor calls him again and tells him that he is a great scholar of... his (Dae-su's) life. He eats a squid alive. The waitress, amused, touches his hand and he suddenly collapses. Somehow she likes him and trusts him enough to take him to her apartment and nurse him until he gets better. There is something savage in his brain after 15 years of captivity: when she goes to the restroom, he follows her, still half naked, and tries to rape her while she is peeing. She resists him, but then forgives him, understands him, confesses that she likes him and offers to help him. Mido must have had her own trauma because she cries remembering something that happened to her in a subway.
They set out to discover the truth behind Daesu's ordeal. Mido discovers his daughter's address, the house where she has been adopted. He catches her chatting on the computer with a man and gets suspicious about her.
He tracks down the place where he was kept. It is a private jail run by a confident young man, who boasts of how well he runs his business. Behind him are several monitors showing what is happening in the various cells of the jail. Daesu tortures him mercilessly, pulling one tooth after the other. Then, using a simple hammer, he makes his way out through a group of men armed with sticks. He has become an invincible warrior. He calls the elevator and more men appear. By the time the elevator reaches the underground garage, they are all dead. He walks in the streets with torn clothes, bleeding from his many wounds, but then collapses crossing a street. A young man stops a car and helps him get into it, and then bids him goodbye calling him "Daesu", i.e. not a casual encounter.
He still lives in Mido's apartment. While she is sleeping, he finds a tape that talks about his 15-year odyssey. Someone is taking pictures of him.
Daesu visits an old friend, Joo-hwan (the same one who rescued him from the police station), who is happy to see him, and makes him listen to the tape. They are to think of the men who might hate Daesu, like the husbands of all the wives he screwed. Daesu still suspects Mido. Back home he tortures her until he is called to a meeting with his persecutor. He meets in person the same young man and a grey-haired man. Daesu's first impulse is to kill the bastard, but the old man is the first one to be stronger than him. Besides, the young man, whose name is Woo-jin, what the game is: Daesu has five days to find out the truth if he wants to save Mido. If he succeeds his persecutor promises to kill himself (he has a pacemaker with a switch so he can kill himself any time he wants to). Daesu is still tempted to just kill him right away, but the young man smiles: if Daesu kills him, Daesu will never find out why he was imprisoned for 15 years. The choice is between seeking revenge or finding the truth.
Back home Daesu finds that Mido is being tortured by a gang led by the jailman whom he tortured, whose teeth have been replaced with false teeth. They grab him and tie him to a chair. They are about to torture him the way he tortured when someone calls the jailman. Minutes later the grey-haired man shows up with briefcase full of cash and saves Daesu's life. The jailmen and his gangsters leave.
The young man is controlling everything that Daesu does. They can hear what Daesu and Mido are saying in the car. They also have a camera in the apartment. They hear the couple make wild love for the first time. Men with gas masks enter the apartment and lies besides them while they are sleeping naked, which could mean that they have been using sleeping gas on them too.
Daesu realizes that the young man can hear him and tries in vain to find out where the transmitter is. The investigation takes Daesu to the register of his high school. He calls Joo-hwan, who was his classmate. Together they reconstruct what happened: a girl committed suicide, it was Woo-jin's sister... Right then Woo-jin walks into Joo-hwan's and kills him. Alarmed, Daesu decides to visit the jailman as a customer: Daesu shows Mido the cell in which he was kept for 15 years and then... pays the jailman to keep Mido there for five days (obviously to protect her from Woo-jin). It's the safest place to be.
Daesu tries to find out what happened in high school and slowly the memory comes back: the girl killed herself because Daesu had caught them (brother and sister) having sex and then told a friend who told a friend who told... (we see it in a flashback).
Now that he figured out the truth, Daesu confronts Woo-jin. Initially he tries violence but he just cannot hit the grey-haired man, probably an effect of 15 years of hypnotic training in the cell. Daesu suddenly realizes that there is more: his sister did not commit suicide, Woo-jin killed her (to avoid the consequences of a possible pregnancy). Nonetheless, that's why Woo-jin kidnapped him and kept him prisoner for 15 years. But why 15 years and why did Why Woo-yin released him after 15 years? Woo-jin reveals that they hypnotized both Mido and Daesu to fall in love, to do exactly what they have been doing all this time, including wild sex. And so it is explained why Mido, an attractive young woman, was so ready to take a lover twice her age who behaved like a savage
Now Woo-jin points a green laser light to Daesu's face, hums a lullaby and then points the laser to a gift-wrapped box. Daesu opens it and finds an album of photographs: it's the story of his daughter, from the last day that he saw her as a baby to how she looks like as a grown woman... Mido... and ends with the pictures that they were secretely taking of the two of them in love. Woo-yin had been following Mido since she was four, waiting 15 years until she became an attractive young woman. Daesu starts running against his persecturo to kill him but the grey-haired man stops him just with his eyes. The grey-haired man is about to kill Daesu when Woo-yin pulls out a pistol and shoots him. He wants Daesu alive.
The next step of the revenge is to have Mido open the same "gift" (that has been delivered to her cell by the jailman). Daesu calls her and begs her not to open the box. Then Daesu begs Woo-yin not to tell Mido the truth. Daesu even kisses the feet of his persecutor and barks like a dog. Woo-yin laughs. Desperate to please his persecutor, Daesu offers to become his slave. Daesu grabs a pair of scissors and cuts his own tongue.
Woo-yin seems satisfied. He got his revenge. He drops the remote control of his pacemaker and starts walking away. Daesu grabs it and clicks but nothing happens, and we suspect the option of the suicide had all been a fabrication. Daesu is petrified by what comes next: the recording of him and his daughter Mido having sex in her apartment. Woo-yin takes the elevator and leaves Daesu alone with the tormenting sounds of the orgasm. But in the elevator Woo-yin encounters his own hell, as he re-lives the moments of his sister's death (we see it in a new flashback): she wanted to jump, he held her (like Daesu held that suicidal man), he had a camera hanging from his neck with which he taken the last picture of her, she begged him to let go, and eventually he did so. Woo-yin puts the gun to his head and pulls the trigger.
The scene shifts suddenly to a snow-covered forest in which the female hypnotizer has decided to help a speechless Daesu to alter his memories and program his future. The another abrupt discontinuity and the woman is gone, Daesu is lying in the snow, Mido runs to help him get up. Two chairs nearby show that maybe father and daughter have simply been sitting together in the forest and he, mentally incapacitated, has wandered away.

Chinjeolhan Geumjassi/ Kind-hearted Ms Geum-ja or Lady Vengeance (2005) completes Park's powerful highly-inventive trilogy, one of the main achievements of Korean cinema. Some creative scenes are simply breathtaking even if they last only a split second. Notably when a still frame of the girls becomes a door that opens into the prison cell where the girls were inmates, one of the most elegant fades into a flashback in the history of cinema (credit also cinematographer Chung Chung-hoon). The first half is another hyperkinetic jigsaw puzzle, with frantic changes of scene and time, some of the scenes lasting only one or two seconds. However, the second half is significantly slower, a simple linear narrative with a melodramatic ending. Park opts for a somber meditation instead of his usual metaphysical allegories, and the result is sometimes amateurish. The film therefore feels overlong, and much inferior to the previous two. In general, the plot is the least plausible of the three. Even his passion and knack for Grand Guignol scenes falls short of expectations: men are tortured, women are raped, but in a tired and dejavu manner.

A band of musicians wearing Santa Claus costumes is waiting for someone in the freezing winter cold. They start playing as a melancholy girl walks through the crow.
When she was 19 years old, the beautiful Lee Geum-ja killed a little boy. The nation was shocked by the brutality of the murder as much as by her angel-like persona. A preacher fell in love with her and visited her in jail. He convinced her that she was an angel and she started behaving like an angel to the other inmates.
The girl is wearing no winter clothes. The preacher gently reproaches her and offers her a gift to celebrate her release. She curses him and walks away, definitely not looking like a grateful angel.
She has been in prison for 14 years. She meets old friends, who are former inmates of the same prison. Yang-hee, a former whore who also spent several years in prison for strangling her pimp, offers her a place to sleep. Apparently, they have been lovers. Now Yang-hee can sense that Geum-ja only pretended to love her. Alone in her room, Geum-ja gets on her knees and prays. Then she dreams of killing a man in the most brutal manner.
She wears red high-heel shoes as if she were going on a date. Instead she walks into the house of a middle-aged couple and vows to cut her own fingers until they tell her what she wants to know. They do so after the first finger. Now she has to wear a bandage and pay for the operation. She starts working in a bakery. A younger boy, Geun-shik, is mesmerized by her beauty.
Meanwhile we see brief flashbacks that summarize the lives of her friends and why each of them owes Geum-ja: So-young, in jail for robbing a bank, owes Geum-ja because Geum-ja offered the kidney that saved her life (she now tells her husband that he has to help Geum-ja with her plan); Soo-hee, now a sculptor, whom Geum-ja saved from the sadistic fat lesbian who had killed husband and mistress and then eaten them; and there's also a North Korean spy, whom Geum-ja attended because not even the guards wanted to. Geum-ja, still with the bandaged finger, says she already found out where her target lives: her plan consists in killing him.
The preacher waits for her and begs her to come back to the church, but she tells him that she has converted to Buddhism: her plan relies on some Buddhist book that she carries with her all the time. One day the detective who worked on her case shows up at the bakery and barely recognizes her. He is melancholic. She tells the boy at the bakery that she kidnapped and killed a five-year old child. We see in a flashback that she confessed to a murder but the detective didn't believe her: she couldn't even recognize the child's favorite marble. Geum-ja also killed someone else: the fat lesbian, to whom she fed bleach under the pretext of taking good care of her, a feat for which the entire prison was grateful to her.
In a flashback we see Geum-ja as am 18-year old girl, pregnant, begging a teacher to let her stay with him because she has nowhere to go, the father of the child having dumped her. Now she's looking for her daughter. The adoption agency won't even tell her whether the baby was adopted or not. Geum-ja breaks into the office at night and steals the records of her daughter.
Then she asks her boss at the bakery for an advance. It turns out this man met her at the prison. He had been shocked that she could bake such perfect cakes with the lousy ingredients that the prison provided. That's why he hired her after she was released.
She sleeps with the (much younger) boy of the bakery after telling him coldly that she is planning to kill another person. Then she seduces him and they have sex. Afterwards she tells him in a detached tone that it was actually a name called Baek who killed the child. If the child were still alive, he would be the same age of the boy she just slept with. The reasn why she took the blame on herself is simple: Baek kidnapped her daughter and threatened to kill her if Geum-ja didn't confess to the killing.
She confessed and accepted to spend all those years in jail, but we realize that from the beginning she was planning her revenge, and she needed to make all those friends in order to make her plan happen.
First, however, she travels to Australia, where her daughter is living with rich parents. She gets gets them drunk and then kidnaps her daughter and takes her back to Korea. At night Geum-ja dreams that her daughter Jenny meets the dead boy playing with the red marble.
The bank robber's husband is a mechanic who builds a special artistic gun for her. She asks her boy lover Geun-shik to drive them to the mountains with a dog. While Geum-ja is out with the dog, the boy tries to teach the girl some Korean girls in an empty classroom. It turns out that's Geum-ja's shooting practice: she aims at the head of the dog and shoots. That's what she has been rehearsing in her dreams for the man she hates.
We finally meet the evil man: kindergarten teacher Baek. One of Geum-ja's friends has tracked him down. Another one has entered his house. Baek is being alerted of what Geum-ja is up to. It is snowing (and will snow till the end of the film). Two men hired by Baek try to kidnap Geum-ja and Jenny, but Geum-ja pulls out her new gun and shoots them. (Jenny does not seem to be terrorized by the event, despite the fact that the shot blows away and entire hand still armed with a knife). Geum-ja and Jenny walk to Baek's place. Baek has tied his much younger girlfriend to the chair after torturing her. As we have seen before, it is his habit to brutally rape her after dinner; and she obliges and is kind and loving. This time he may have found out that she is one of Geum-ja's friends, sent to him to spy on him. But this time the food is poisoned with sleeping pills. The disfigured bleeding girl watches amused as he falls asleep on the dinner table and Geum-ja arrives to take care of him.
Geum-ja has to deal with her daughter too. Her daughter did not forgive her, thinking that Geum-ja abandoned her of her free will. Geum-ja loads eerybody in a car and drives to an isolated house. Baek wakes up tied and gagged. She puts a gun to his head and forces him to translate in English her story to her daughter, from the killing of the boy to the fact that now she intends to kill this man. Geum-ja has decided to return the girl to her Australian parents. Geun-ja breaks into tears. She hands the girl to the girlfriend who lived with Baek and they leave her alone with Baek.
Geum-ja sticks the gun into his eye but can't pull the trigger. She tries to strangle him with the necktie, then kicks him hysterically; but still cannot finish him off. While she's doing all of this, she a red marble ball hanging from his cell phone, an obvious trophy, but with this trophy there are four more objects. We realize that this man has killed four other children. She shoots his feet so he can't run away. A flashback shows police officers finding graves in the woods.
The detective and Geum-ja find videos of the killed children. Geum-ja now feels even guiltier: those four children would not have died if she had told the truth at the trial and sent the killer to jail. (The pace of the film slows down dramatically at this point, and the narrative becomes purely linear).
Geum-ja (suddenly in charge of the events) and the detective (who acts simply as her secretary) gather the parents at the house and start showing them the videos. We cannot hear the voices of the parents but we can see the terror in their facial expressions as they watch their children's last moments on those videos. De facto, she is torturing the parents by showing them the videos of their terrorized children. At the end she tells them what she knows: that Baek, always working in upper-class neighborhoods, kidnapped and killed children from other classes (never his own) in order to ransom them to their wealthy parents (but the children were already dead when the families received his phone call). She now gives them a choice. They can deliver the man to the detective, who is standing there with them, or they can take their own speedy revenge. They argue among themselves and vote to kill him, each in their own manner. Baek has been listening to the whole proceedings thanks to speakers in his room. The detective even explains to the parents how to use a knife more effectively. What follows is a gruesome procession of torturers. By the end of the operation, they have to dispose of a bucketfull of blood. In a rather comic scene, the detective takes a group picture of the parents after Baek is dead. They dig a grave in the woods. Geum-ja shoots him in the face with her gun one last time before sealing the grave. Then they celebrate the event in the bakery. Before leaving, they make sure to give Geum-ja their bank account numbers so that the ransom money can be returned to them (another darkly comic touch).
The final oneiric scenes are about Geum-ja's separation from her daughter. First Geum-ja sees the killed boy who is now a grown-up man, and he sticks his red marble ball in her mouth to shut her up. Then Jenny leaves her Australian parents and, barefoot in her pajama, runs to hug her mother in the street (it's still snowing).

Ssaibogeujiman Gwaenchana/ I'm a Cyborg but that's OK (2006), again co-scripted with Seo-kyeong Jeong, is a farcical Dada dance set in a mental asylum where a miniature humankind in disguise is struggling to find the meaning of life. The plot is not a plot, and in any events it is derailed by countless detours into the daydreaming, the mirages of the mentally ill. If there is a plot, then it is a convoluted love story. The film is also rich with iconic images.

A young woman, Young-goon, is a working in a factory next to an army to workers who look exactly like her. They follow orders shouted by an invisible voice and repeat mechanical movements to produce radios. Fast forward and she's talking to a psychoanalyst about her condition. She mentions that her trouble began when she was a child and went home with a headache. Her mother was running a humble restaurant and was desperate because her mother, Young-goon's granma, was going insane: eating radish all day long and behaving like a mouse. Back to the days of the factory, One day Young-goon misunderstands the order to "cut the wrist" and cuts her own wrist and then inserts wires into the wound and then plugs the wires into an electrical outlet. She is hospitalized in a mental asylum. A fellow patient pushes her bed around the floor, giving her a tour of the mad people, telling her the story of each person's madness. When she recovers, she starts talking to all the electrical devices, in particular to a vending machine, as if they are alive and can understand her. She believes she is a cyborg. A flashback shows her trauma when an ambulance took her granma away. She jumped on her bicycle and ran after the ambulance because granma had forgotten her dentures, indispensable for chewing the radish, but in vain. The bicycle told her that she was a cyborg. When she dines with the others in the cafeteria, she avoids the food and instead recharges herself with batteries. A fat patient eats her meal. At night she pulls out a radio with a very tall antenna and meditates. Il-soon is the thief in the hospital. A ping-pong player accuses him of stealing his ping-pong skills. Another one even accuses him of stealing her memory. He confesses that he stole the day of thursday. However, we also know that he secretely puts money in the vending machine so that the vending machine can "reply" to Young-goon's voice by spitting out soda cans. She hides into a pendulum clock. A flashback shows her telling her mom that she is a cyborg and her mom asking her to keep it a secret because it could ruin the restaurant's business. Another patient, Duk-cheon, lost his mind after he caused a deadly car accident. He now only walks backwards, this way nobody can follow him. One day the thief Il-soon steals granma's dentures that Young-goon still keeps next to her all the time, determined to deliver them some day to granma. He steals them to see if they confer the power to talk to the vending machine. next to her all the time, determined to deliver them some day to granma. When Young-goon realizes that they are gone, she gets desperate. Il-soon's excuse is that his mother left him as a child and took all the electrical toothbrushes (hence he obsessively brushes his teeth all the time). Young-goon begs him to steal her sympathy. He does his best to turn her into a vicious person. She in fact turns into a living machine gun, a killer machine... but it's only in her imagination. In reality, she collapses to the floor because she hasn't eaten in days. Meanwhile, the fat patient has acquired magic socks that, rubbed together, should allow her to fly. The doctors try to heal Young-goon's resistance to food with an electroshock during which she has a vision of her granma who tries to tell her what the meaning of life is. Il-soon the thief explains that he used to be an electrical repairman until he was caught stealing a motorcycle: the judge who sentenced him to prison predicted that he would shrink to a dot. Young-goon reminesces that she was born weak and spent her first days into an incubators, raised by wires. She turns again into a killer cyborg and exterminates almost everybody, but, again, it is just a dream. Another patient is a girl with a beautiful voice who looks at herself in the mirror. She asks the thief to steal the fat woman's flying socks. On the other hand, the fact woman asks the thief to steal the voice of the mirror girl and offers him the flying socks. Young-goon still refuses to eat and is now force-fed through the nose. Il-soon is horrified by how she has been treated and makes a scene. He is then locked into a green room where he manages to communicate with Young-goon. She dreams that a giant insect helps her fly away. In the dream she meets granma and tries to finally give her the dentures but granma actually doesn't want them. When she wakes up, her mom comes to tell her that granma died. Young-goon now realizes that her mom hid on purpose the dentures to avoid that granma would continue to eat radish like a mouse in the hospital. Il-soon dreams of kissing Young-goon. Somehow Il-soon sneaks into her room and takes her to the basement, where he pretends to open the battery door located in her back (he simply draws a picture of it on her back) and pretends to insert a device that will convert food into energy. He then takes her to the cafeteria and tells her to eat food normally, promising that his device will transform the food into the equivalent of battery energy. The whole cafeteria stops and watches, repeating her movements as she tries to swallow a spoonful of rice. When he succeeds and she swallows the food, the crowd erupts in a standing ovation for him. Back to the interview with the psychoanalyst, Young-goon tells her that granma was listening obsessively to a radio that Young-goon herself had built. Her mother was annoyed by the noise, destroyed the radio and calls the ambulance that took granma away. As the ambulance was going away and Young-goon was riding her bicycle behind it, granma tried to tell her the meaning of life but again Young-goon couldn't grasp the words. Young-goon now tells the doctor her secret, whispering it in her ear: she is a cyborg. Il-soon helps Young-goon to make sense of what granma's last words (that have obviously haunted her ever since) and they conclude that granma was warning her that she is an atomic bomb that needs a bolt of lightning to detonate. Il-soon and Young-goon leave the hospital in the middle of a storm, erect a lightning rod (the antenna of her radio) and take shelter under a tent. But Il-soon places the cork of a wine bottle on top of the lightning rod to make sure that the experiment will fail. The sun rises and a giant rainbow circles the sky.

After the vampire film Bakjwi/ Thirst (2009), another collaboration with Seo-kyeong Jeong, and the horror movie Paranmanjang/ Night Fishing (2011), entirely shot on the iPhone, he turned to more conventional stories with the psychological thriller Stoker (2013).

The 144-minute The Handmaiden (2016), a faithful adaptation of Sarah Waters' novel "Fingersmith" with the story transposed to 1930s Japanese-occupied Korea, is a combination of post-modernist narrative puzzle, horror thriller and black lesbian comedy with feminist overtones. Both men are disgusting human beings and the two women overcome their evil schemes with their own evil scheme. It could have been a great film, but mostly because of the narrative devices deployed by Sarah Waters in her novel. Park act simply as Waters' diligent assistant. The film (like the book) is structured in three parts: the first part seems to tell us a straightforward (and a little boring/preposterous) story, but the second part shows us the real events, which totally change our perception of the truth, and the third part reveals yet another (and final) truth. Each woman has looked like a silly gullible girl, but by the end they both have outsmarted their tormentors.

The first part opens with a number of Koreans holding babies in their arms while Japanese troops march by. A young Korean woman, Tamako, is driven to the mansion of a Japanese family and is welcomed with a Japanese name, Okyu. She has been hired as a maid to take care of the lady of the house. The housekeeper shows her to a tiny bed in a closet. In the middle of the night, the lady, Hideko, wakes up with a nightmare. Okyu rushes to her bedroom and Hideko tells her that her aunt went mad and hanged herself from the tree across the room.
A flashback, narrated by the maid, informs us that her real name is Sookhee, she is a forger and pickpocket who works with a gang to sell abandoned babies to Japan. The flashback shows how a "gentleman" (actually a con man) offered her a lucrative job. He plans to marry a rich Japanese lady, have her interned in a madhouse and take her money. Since her parents died and her aunt died, the lady lives alone with an uncle who collects rare books and auctions them off. The uncle wants to marry her because she's the heir to her parents' fortune. The gentleman needs Sookhee to infiltrate the house as a maid and help him seduce the lady and then declare her mad to the authorities. He plans to introduce himself to the lady as a Japanese count named Fujiwara. He offers Sookhee all the jewelry of the lady.
Back to the mansion (we now know that Sookee/Tamako/Okyu is an impostor) Hideko is obsessed with beauty. Okyu thinks she's beautiful enough but Hideko is jealous of her mother who was known for her beauty. Hideko reveals that she has been in that mansion since she was five and never left the vast mansion and its garden. Okyu sees that Hideko is being trained by her uncle to read books of a vast library which is forbidden to everybody else. Okyu helps Hideko bath and they feel physical attraction for each other. The gentleman arrives, pretending to be count Fujiwara, hired to teach Hideko how to paint, and begins his seduction of Hideko, and Okyu begins to scheme to make the lady fall in love with him. Hideko reveals to Okyu that her uncle needs her fortune to buy a collection of rare books. Okyu feels sorry for Hideko, an orphan exploited by her uncle and soon to be robbed by the gentle-con-man. The two women bond but the gentleman also makes progress in seducing Hideko, which causes mixed feelings in Okyu: on one hand Okyu wants Hideko's jewelry and on the other hand pities the naive and gullible Hideko. We see for a few seconds Hideko, dressed in traditional costumes, sitting on the floor and reading from a book. Later she is exhaused and asks Okyu to sleep in her bed. Hideko reveals that she never had any contact with a man. Okyu teaches her how to kiss, and they end up having sex. The count secretly proposes to Hideko to elope and get married, a tempting proposition that will give Hideko the freedom she never had. Okyu now becomes hostile to the gentleman's plan to seduce and betray Hideko, but cannot stop it. When the uncle goes away for a trip, the count takes lady Hideko and maid Okyu to a ship and they travel to Japan where the marriage is celebrated. Okyu is madly jealous as she hears through the wall that they are having sex. The false count then leaves for a week. He comes back with a suitcase full of money: he legally got Hideko's inheritance. The next step is to declare Hideko mad. Okyu goes along with the plan and testifies that Hideko is crazy. The count drives to the madhouse where doctors and nurses are ready to take care of the lady. When they get there, however, the count and the lady claim that Okyu is the mad lady, and she's the one who gets internet in the mental hospital. It was not Hideko but Okyu who was a gullible fool. Hideko schemed against Okyu while Okyu thought that she (Okyu) was scheming against Hideko.

The second part opens with a flashback that shows how little Hideko was beaten by her uncle. We see her aunt teaching the girl how to read but some of the words are about sex. Little Hideko is trained to read books in a special sensual manner. Then we see her aunt reading, dressed in a traditional costume, to a number of wealthy gentlemen. She is reading pornographic books. We understand that the vast library is a library of porn books. The aunt demonstrates the contents to the rich perverts who then offer to buy them. Then we see how the aunt killed herself. Her role was taken by Hideko. We see the gentleman attending one such reading and daydreaming sadomaso treatment. Hideko's performance ends with a circus number in which she is suspended in the air making love to a wooden mannequin.
Now the film fasts forward to the day the count enters the mansion as a tutor and how he offers Hideko his deal to elope and split her fortune. Hideko is tempted but scared of her uncle. The uncle once told her that her aunt didn't hang herself: he killed her in the basement using torture instruments because she was trying to flee. The count offers Hideko a powerful poison to commit suicide if that ever happened to her. The count is not interested in sex with Hideko, who is clearly frigid: he candidly states that he's only interested in the money. And now we see something that was hidden from us in the first part: Hideko is the one who comes up with the idea of implicating a gullible and naive maid, then fool her and consign her to a madhouse. However, Hideko truly falls in love with Okyu. We see their passion in more vivid details. Hideko almost calls off the scheme but, when it sounds like Okyu doesn't care for her, Hideko tries to hang herself. Okyu saves her and then confesses that she has been hired to betray her. Now Hideko confesses that she (Hideko) is the one who is planning to betray. The two women now scheme together. Hideko reveals that she's been reading porn all the time, that all the books in the library are pornographic, that her uncle is a pervert. Okyu goes on a rampage and destroys all the books. Then the two women run away together. And then we see the scene of the madhouse.

The third part opens with Hideko and the count discussing Okyu's fate in the madhouse. He is convinced that she will kill herself, and indifferent to her fate. Hideko pours poison in a drink and then kisses him to pour the drink into his mouth. Finally he collapses. Meanwhile, Okyu has escaped from the mental asylum after a friend set fire to it. Hideko and Okyu reunite. But the man is not dead. He is captured by henchmen of the uncle because Hideko send her uncle a letter confessing the count's scheme. The uncle ties him in the basement and tortures him. The "count" notices that the basement has no windows. The uncle's heanchmen search for the girls all over town, but Okyu has forged a passport to make Hideko look like a man, and they are purchasing tickets for a ship. The uncle not only tortures the count but also wants to know how sex with Hideko was on the first night. We see that she faked it but the count pretends that it was wild sex just to hurt the uncle. Meanwhile, the count asked to be allowed to smoke a cigarette which contains mercury-laced poison and slowly kills both of them. Hideko and Okyu celebrate their freedom on the ship with wild sex according to one of the porn stories that Hideko memorized.

The Little Drummer Girl (2018) was a television miniseries based on John LeCarre's novel.

Haeojil Gyeolsim/ Decision To Leave (2022), which reunited him with screenwriter Seo-kyeong Jeong, is an intricate love story disguised as a detective movie, with a femme fatale that turns out to be the victim of a "homme fatale".

Hae-jun and Soo-wan are cops who work together. Hae-jun suggests to Soo-wan that they should crack an unsolved case. Hae-jun meets a casher who has recognized a man called G-goo, wanted by Hae-jun. Then Hae-jun drives to a nuclear power plant and almost falls asleep at the wheel: we learn that he is sleep-deprived. He picks up his wife, a science nerd, and they discuss their son, who is also becoming a science nerd. We learn that Hae-jun only sees his wife during the weekends because they work in two different cities. She is concerned that the majority of "sex-less" marriages end in divorce. Back to work, Hae-jun and Soo-wan are sent to investigate the death of a climber, Ki Do-soo, who apparently fell to his death. His watch shows the time of his death. Hae-jun insists on climbing the mountain the hard way. The man was a retired immigration officer whose main hobby was mountaineering. At the morgue they meet the dead man's young Chinese wife, Seo-rae, who speaks fluent Korean. She doesn't seem sorry nor surprised that he fell to his death. The dead man used to engrave his initials on all of his belongings, and Hae-jun finds out that he abused the young wife: the social worker who worked on that case shows him pictures of the bruises inflicted on her, and Hae-jun notices a tattoo of the man's initials on the belly of the wife. During the interrogation she seems to smile. At home Hae-jun and his wife finally have sex. We learn that they have been married for 16 years. Hae-jun investigates Seo-rae. She works as a home caregiver for disabled elderly people. She has excellent reviews from the patients. Hae-jun watches her with binoculars while she is caring for an old woman. (We see him physically transported into the house, next to her). The autopsy finds Seo-rae's fingerprints under the dead man's fingernails, and she explains that he scratches her legs when she refused to follow him to the mountains. Hae-jun finds out that she was part of a group of illegal Chinese immigrants, and she was the only one who was not deported. She claims that her grandfather was a national hero of South Korea and was granted a mountain there. The interrogation is suddenly interrupted because the cops are tipped about gangster G-goo's whereabout. Hae-jun and his partner rush out and Seo-rae is free to return home but instead she follows the cops and witnesses Hae-jun's courage. Hae-jun is looking for the murderer of a man called Beom and he can tell that G-goo can't be the killer from the awkward way in which he fights. G-goo admits that the real killer is a ferocious gangster, San-O, who would rather kill himself than surrender to the police. Back at the police station, Hae-jun learns that Seo-rae has a strong alibi: she was filmed going in and out of an elderly patient's home when her husband died. Later, he spends the night spying on her from the roof of a building. In the morning she finds him asleep in his car. He starts spying on her every night. One day he uses a computer to translate what she said in Chinese to her cat, and realizes that she's in love with him. In turn, Hae-jun is clearly getting obsessed with her. His boss, however, wants him to stop wasting time on the case, and Hae-jun too thinks that there is no foul play, but Soo-wan finds out that Seo-Rae is wanted for murder in China: she killed her own mother. Seo-rae invite Hae-jun to her place and he rushes over. Seo-rae tells Hae-jun that her mother asked to die. It was her mother who told her to emigrate to South Korea where her grandfather fought. Hae-jun asks Seo-rae why she married an older and boring man. Seo-rae doesn't reply but shows him evidence that her husband was a corrupt immigration official, easy to bribe. Hae-jun then finds out that the husband wrote a note to the department that reads like a suicide note to redeem himself. Soo-wan still has doubts, but Hae-jun rules that Seo-rae's husband killed himself. Hae-jun tells Seo-rae that the case is closed, invites her for dinner at his place, tells her he is an insomniac, and that he's chasing the killer of that man called Beom, San-O. Meanwhile, the cops track down San-O, and Hae-jun understands that Sun-O killed Beom because of a woman. Hae-jun sympathyzes with Sun-O, a man desperately in love, but he kills himself before Hae-jun can arrest him. Seo-rae returns to Hae-jun's apartment and burns all the photos that Hae-jun has kept of his unsolved cases, including those from her husband's case, arguing that those gruesome photos are the cause of his insomnia. He has kept an entire wall of photos. They start dating. During a visit to a Buddhist temple, Hae-jun tells Seo-rae that he promises victims of murder that he will find their killer. His wife doesn't suspect anything but notices that his clothes smell of cigarette: he used to be a chain smoker and it was hard to quit, so she is worried that he is starting again, but in reality she's smelling the cigarettes smoked by Seo-rae. One day Seo-rae asks him Hae-jun to take care of the old woman who is her main alibi. Hae-jun realizes that the old woman doesn't know what day it is. He also notices that, according to her phone, the old woman climbed a lot on the day of the murder, but the old woman can't even walk. He reconstructs how Seo-rae could have created herself an alibi on that day and still managed to kill her husband on the top of the mountain, by leaving her phone with the old woman (which would show her being there all the time), using the old woman's phone on her climb, and trusting that the old woman would testify that they were together that day because she would confuse it with another day. Her bruises and scratches were not caused by her husband but by a difficult climb. Hae-jun confronts Seo-rae, who confesses. She even forged the suicide note, and burned the photos that documented the murder. Hae-jun is devastated that he was used to fail an investigation. Hae-jun leaves Seo-rae, but rather than reporting her he advises her to destroy her phone, which contains the last piece of evidence of her crime.
Thirteen months later, Hae-Jun and his wife live together. He is seeing a doctor because of his depression and his insomnia. Suddenly, we see that Seo-rae is assaulted in a mansion by a man who blames her and her husband for his mother's illness. He swears that he will kill her husband if his mother dies. We see that she has a new husband. One day they run into each other: Seo-rae with her new husband and Hae-jun with his wife. Seo-rae recognizes Seo-rae's new husband as a television celebrity. One day Hae-jun is called to investigate a new murder: Seo-rae's new husband has been killed in his mansion. Again, the watch shows at what time he was killed. Hae-jun immediately suspects Seo-rae. Hae-jun is also puzzled that she decided to move to the town where he moved, of all places. However, it looks like the killer was left-handed. Seo-rae claims to have removed some of the evidence only to make the scene look less gruesome, so that Hae-Jun would not be haunted by another gruesome memory. That's enough to arrest her. Another cop finds out about the man whom we saw assaulting Seo-rae, Slappy, a man whose mother recently died, a violent man, a left-handed man (and we know that he swore to kill Seo-rae's husband). Slappy confesses to the killing to avenge his mother, who was scammed by Seo-rae's husband of all her money, and Seo-rae is released. Hae-jun is not satisfied. From a picture taken after the murder, he suspects that Seo-rae threw her husband's missing phone into the ocean. Meanwhile, Seo-rae's wife has found out that the dead man called her phone number the night before dying, and reaches the odd conclusion that Hae-jun and Seo-rae are the killers! Hae-jun is speechless and doesn't even defend himself. Hae-jun confiscates Seo-rae's smartwatch and has the content translated from Chinese into Korean: it contains Seo-rae's diary, in which she confesses that she is still in love with him. Hae-jun looks for Seo-rae and she asks to meet her at her grandfather's mountain. She tells him that she married the rich man because decent men (like Hae-jun) wouldn't marry her. She claims that she's scared of heights (therefore she can't have climbed the mountain to kill her husband) and asks him to throw the ashes of her granpa and her mother from the edge of the mountain. He does so and is then standing on the edge. He hears her approaching behind him as if she's going to push him into the abyss, and is paralyzed by fear, but instead she hugs him and kisses him. She shows him that she never destroyed her phone, the one that, according to him, contains incriminating evidence against her. Hae-Jun drives back home in the middle of the night and finds that his wife is leaving him. Hae-jun was right: the dead man's missing phone is found in the sea. Hae-jun reads the last messages that he sent to Seo-rae: he threatened to tell Hae-jun's wife that Hae-jun was "fooling around" with Seo-rae, having found a compromising voice recording. Hae-jun now also has a motive for Seo-rae's murder. Slappy confessed but Hae-jun interrogates him and finds out that Seo-rae visited his mother at the hospital the day she died. Hae-jun has no doubt: Seo-rae poisoned Slappy's mother like she poisoned her own mother, knowing that Slappy would kill her husband. Hae-Jun calls Seo-rae and accuses her. She admits it. He asks which voice recording he had that was so compromising. She tells him of a recording in which he told her "I love you". He doesn't remember saying it ever. She heads to the beach and starts digging a hole in the sand. He finds her car. She left her phone very visible. He turns it on and hears the recording of when he advised her to destroy the phone. Seo-rae walks into the hole that she dug and waits for the tide to drown her. Hae-Jun runs to the beach but it's too late: the tide has already buried her alive. He runs all over the beach, desperate, and phones for help, but the sun is going down.

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