Park Chan-wook jokes he’s ‘not at all surprised’ by LACMA honor in speech on American norms

The acclaimed director was honored at the LACMA Art + Film Gala.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art honored director Park Chan-wook at its 2022 Art + Film Gala on Saturday night, where the acclaimed South Korean filmmaker took the stage for a speech that joked about American norms.

Park — whose latest feature, Decision to Leave, won him the best director’s award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival and serves as South Korea’s submission for best international feature at the 2023 Academy Awards — drew laughs from the crowd when he highlighted the differences in accepting one’s accomplishments in Korean versus American culture.

“I initially wanted to [begin] with the following words: ‘I do not know how to thank you for such an award that is beyond me,’ but I remembered advice from a friend that is familiar with both Korean and American culture,” Park began. “She told me that you should not be too humble in America… So I will take in that advice and say the following words instead: ‘I am not at all surprised for the award that I obviously deserve.'”

South Korean director Park Chan-wook attends the 11th Annual LACMA Art+Film Gala at Los Angeles County Museum of Art in Los Angeles, California, on November 5, 2022. (Photo by Michael Tran / AFP) (Photo by MICHAEL TRAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Park Chan-wook at the LACMA Art + Film Gala

| Credit: MICHAEL TRAN/AFP via Getty

The Oldboy director was introduced by Squid Game actor Lee Byung-hun, who came with his own set of jokes prepared. The actor, who starred in Park’s breakthrough 2000 film Joint Security Area, recalled how the collaboration came to be. “Both director Park and I experienced disastrous failures side by side on our separate paths,” Lee said. “It was absolutely miserable.”

He continued, “At the time we were both depressed, thinking would director Park or I be able to do a movie again. Then one day director Park offered me another role. A failed director and the failed actor come together to create a new project — what a perfect idea.” The film, of course, became a box office success in Korea and “changed the history of Korean cinema,” Lee said.

During his remarks, Lee also referenced the Halloween crowd crush tragedy that occurred in Seoul last month, wherein at least 156 people died. “Please join me in keeping all the victims and their families in our thoughts and prayers,” the actor said.

Both Park and visual artist Helen Pashgian were honored at the star-studded soirée championed by LACMA trustee Eva Chow and actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

Park Chan-wook for his latest film, Decision to Leave

Park Hae-il and Tang Wei in Park Chan-wook’s ‘Decision to Leave’

| Credit: Mubi

Park recently spoke to EW about reinventing the classic detective romance in Decision to Leave, as well as the rise of South Korean entertainment and culture in the U.S. “I think it’s because Korean people are so emotionally expressive,” he said when asked about its influence. “There’s a wide dynamic range or spectrum of the emotions that they have. So in their cultural products, they really want to experience all of these different emotions.”

“These emotions naturally are emotions all people can resonate with, which is why people from other countries are sympathizing with themes or emotions in these works,” he continued. “But it’s not just a blessing that Koreans have such a wide dynamic spectrum of emotions, because this comes from a long, painful history within the country. So you can say in a way, a tragedy has turned into a blessing.”

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