Late last night, Darcy Paquet broke the news on Twitter that Park Chul-soo, best known for directing 301/302 (1995) and Green Chair (2003), had died in a car accident. In the confirmations now coming from Korean news agencies, we learn that Park, 64, had been walking in Seoul when he was struck by a car and passed away at around midnight.
Via Hancinema: “He created the first digital feature film and first 3D sound movies in Korea and he didn’t lose his experimental posture even when he reached his middle ages. Park was active until recently with Red Vacance Black Wedding and B.E.D for which he was invited to the Busan International Film Festival.”
Park’s mystery thriller 301/302 was one of the earliest Korean films to see a commercial theatrical release in the States. The Austin Chronicle‘s Marjorie Baumgarten noted that it’s “visually arresting to look at, creating a hyper-real canvas of vivid images and fully exposed ciphers. Using crisp cinematography and extreme close-ups, saturated colors, compelling set decoration, the overall production design is, in large measure, responsible for creating the movie’s lingering sense of disturbance and disquiet.”
Back to Darcy Paquet, writing for Koreanfilm.org: “As in many of his previous features, such as the grisly ‘cooking’ movie 301/302 or the ob-gyn extravaganza Push! Push!, Park’s direct, non-judgmental approach can be alienating for mainstream viewers. This turned into a problem for Green Chair when its investor, Hapdong Film, decided it was too bizarre to hold any commercial potential, and shelved it. That was in 2003, and it was a year and a half before interest expressed by festivals such as Sundance and Berlin managed to rescue it from obscurity…. Despite his status as a veteran director, Park has always shown a youthful glee in poking at society’s sore spots. Green Chair represents one of his most successful efforts in doing so.”
Update, 2/20: “Known for his energy and enthusiasm, the last 24hrs have featured many fond remembrances from those that knew him,” writes Pierce Conran at Twitch. “I was very fortunate to meet Park for a few minutes last October at the Busan International Film Festival. It was early in the morning, on the street outside of an izakaya behind the Grand Hotel. He wore sunglasses and a big smile on his face, happy to shake my hand and full of life as he gesticulated throughout our short conversation. His last completed film, the erotic indie B.E.D, premiered at the festival and was released earlier this month on Korean screens.”