• By
  • Jaeyeon Woo
Moho Film
The poster of the movie ‘Paranmanjang’

Park Chan-wook, one of South Korea’s best directors, gets lots of attention when he introduces a new movie. About 100 reporters showed up Monday morning for a screening of his latest work, a 30-minute short called “Paranmanjang,” which is Korean for “Ups and Downs.”

Some were there because of the way Mr. Park made the movie: shooting it entirely on the latest version of Apple Inc.’s iPhone.

“From hunting for a film location, shooting auditions, to doing a documentary on the filming process, everything was shot with the iPhone 4,” Mr. Park said after the screening. “We went through all the same film-making processes except that the camera was small.”


He became famous in 2000 with “JSA (Joint Security Area),” an intricate story that captured the tragic reality of the divided Koreas. Then, in 2004, he won the Grand Prix award at the Cannes Film Festival with “Old Boy,” the second of a three movies in what he called his revenge trilogy. And then in 2009, his movie “Thirst” won the Jury Prize at Cannes.

For the short, he teamed up with his younger brother Park Chan-kyong, a media artist, and KT Corp., the wireless operator that is the exclusive distributor of iPhone in South Korea. KT paid for a portion of the $130,000 in production costs.

Pyo Hyun-myung, president of KT’s mobile business group, called the movie “the product of the state-of-the-art technology meets art.” The company has sold 1.84 million units of iPhone since it became available in the market in November 2009.

Moho Film
A scene from the movie, Paranmanjang

The short is a fantastical tale that begins with a middle-aged man fishing one afternoon and then, hours later at night, catches the body of a woman. The panicked man tries to undo the intertwined fishing line, but he gets more and more entangled. He faints, then wakes up to find himself in the white clothes that the woman was wearing. The movie’s point of view then shifts to the woman and it becomes a tale of life and death from a traditional Korean point of view.

The quality of the cinematography is quite good, except for a little shakiness in the beginning. And the fact that the screen is coarse works to the film’s advantage, especially on the night scenes given its life-and-death theme.

KT began promoting the movie in October with an ad that was also shot with the smartphone. In the ad, Mr. Park asks himself, “Is there anything I can do that greatest directors haven’t done yet?” After stroking his chin, he exclaims, “Ah! Making a film with the iPhone!”

Mr. Park was not the first South Korean moviemaker to experiment this way. Last October, KT sponsored a film festival with 12 short movies also made with the iPhone 4. Mr. Park’s new work will be screened at nine cinemas nationwide later this month.

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