“At first I think people reached out to me because they wanted to portray the American story from a foreign perspective, but nowadays they find me because they want to. Maybe it’s because of higher credit for Korean contents” says Chung Chung-hoon (age 52, photo), a much sought-after cinematographer by Hollywood producers. He has been in Hollywood for quite a while, promoting Korean filming technology. Your reporter met with Chung, who spoke about changes in Korean contents in Hollywood, through video conference.
Chung filmed seven of director Park Chan-wook’s movies, including Old Boy (2003). He entered Hollywood by filming Park’s Hollywood debut film ‘Stalker’ in 2013, and was assigned several other leading films including ‘Hotel Artemis’ starring Jodie Foster, ‘Spider Man’ starring Tom Holland, as well as ‘Unchartered’. He became the first Korean to take part as main staff in the Star Wars series by filming Obi-Wan Kenobi, a Disney Plus series starring Ewan McGregor. Obi-Wan Kenobi has been released since June 8 in Korea.
“I felt pressured by the first Korean title, but it was good at the same time because I didn’t have any directions to follow and I could do whatever I felt like, which turned out well. Old Boy is still known as a legend in Hollywood, and I still get requests to pay homage to the hammer fight scene in Old Boy. I was asked to do that in Obi-Wan Kenobi, which is much darker than the other Star Wars series,” he said.
He says he feels Korean contents have become more acknowledged in Hollywood. “People used to mention Kimchi and Bibimbap when they approached me, but now they bring up Squid Game and BTS. I got to know Squid Game through local recommendations as well as BTS, who is much loved by local staff and actors,” said Chung.
Chung also advised those aspiring to become cinematographers, particularly stressing to learn English fluently. “I hope language doesn’t become a barrier for you in doing what you do best,” he said. For plans going forward, he hopes to continue to film movies regardless of their size or fame. “I like to focus on my work. I guess that is my philosophy for filming,” said Chung.
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