The Unbearable Sadness of Being Korean

Im Kwon Taek may be the most famous director you've never heard of. Dubbed the godfather of Korean cinema, he's often met overseas with polite, confused smiles that say: Oh, Korea has a modern film industry? The ignorance is starting to clear now that the 66-year-old has picked up a Best Director award at the Cannes Film Festival for his latest film, Chihwaseon , a tale of artistry, alcohol and political turmoil set in 19th century Korea. But Im is still surprised to encounter respect from non-Koreans. "You want to interview me?" he asks, his weathered face breaking into a smile. "Well,...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!