Veteran Film Director Im Kwon-taek won the 1st Honam Future Forum Award in recognition of his lifetime achievements in the area of cinema excellence. The renowned movie director was born on May 2, 1936, in Jangseong, South Jeolla Province.
He grew up in the southern city of Gwangju, where he completed high school. During the Korean War, his family suffered considerable hardships and losses in the fighting, and he moved to Busan in search of work. From Busan he moved to Seoul in 1955, and met the film director Chung Chang-hwa. From this time, Im started to work as a production assistant on Chung’s film “The Story of Janghwa & Hongryun.”
After five years, Im was recommended by Chung for the position of film director, and he completed his first feature, "Dumanganga Jal Ikkora," in 1962. He went on to become a prolific director of films in various genres until the late 1970s.
While Korean cinema was experiencing a sharp decline during the 1970s, after undergoing two decades of rapid growth, Im Kwon-taek’s career blossomed with the success of his first serious-themed feature films.
Beginning with his 1978 film “The Genealogy” ("Jokbo") and continuing with The Hidden Hero” ("Gitbal-eomneun Gisu", 1979), ("Jagko", 1980) and “Mandal” ("Mandala", 1981), his films became the talk of the film industry among both domestic and international critics. Im gained worldwide fame at international film festivals with “Surrogate Woman” ("Sibaji," 1986), “Come Come Come Upward” ("Aje Aje Bara Aje," 1989) and “Sopyonje” ("Seopyeonje," 1993), becoming the most recognizable Korean film director of his era.
In 2000, “ Chunhyang” ("Chunhyang-jeon") became the first Korean film ever to enter the competition section at Cannes. Im Kwon-taek has won numerous international awards, including the Best Director Award at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival for “Chihwaseon.” He was also awarded an honorary Golden Bear award for his lifetime achievements at the Berlin Film Festival in 2005.
In the 1990s, Director Im was successful twice, in both film quality and box office, the two factors needed for Renaissance in the film career, flying high in the stages both at home and abroad. In 1990, “The Son of the General” broke a record in ticket sales with some 675,000 people seeing the film, and “Seopuynje,” based on a novel written by author Lee Cheong-joon, which attracted some 1 million viewers in Seoul alone for the first time in Korean cinema history.
Riding on the successes of those films at the box office, Im produced successful movies one after another in the 1990s. In 1994, his movie “Taebaek Mountain Range” was shown in the movie houses across the country followed by “The festival” in 1996 and “A Playful Girl” in 1999. Im also turned out “Chunhyang Tale,” which was called a “movie that film the voices,” that raised the moviegoers interest.
Coming into the 2000s, he enjoyed his film “Chunghyang Tale,” competing at the final round of the Cannes Film Festival in 2000. In 2002, Im saw his film won the best film director award at Cannes Int’l Film Festival, considered the top film event in the world, with his “Chihwaseon,” putting him on the list of the best directors in the world.
In 2011, he made his 101st film in his career, “Moon Light Raising,” followed by the 102nd in 2014, “Cremation” to show the world the old cinema man never gets old. The film was shown in the Gala event at the Venice Int’l Film Festival where only the movies of master film directors around the world are introduced, another great honor for Im.
Im also won the Honorary Golden Bear Award at Berlin Int’l Film Festival in 2005 and the Legion d’Honneur Chevalier Award from France in 2007.