You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Stoker’ to help Chung reboot career in States

10 Cinematographers to Watch 2013: Chung-hoon Chung

Chung-hoon Chung, who was born in 1970 in Seoul, South Korea, started out as a child actor and cinephiles everywhere can be thankful that he turned out to be “a horrible one — really bad.”

After 10 years of emoting while attending Dongguk U. in 1990 as theater major, he turned his focus on cinematography, directing three shorts and learning the ropes. During his senior year, he made his debut as cinematographer on a feature called “Yuri.”

“It was based on a famous Korean novel, and they had no money to hire a real d.p., so I jumped at the chance,” he recalls.

“Yuri” was invited to Cannes and Chung’s career seemed set to take off. Instead, he struggled for several years to establish himself. “First, I had to do the mandatory military service for two years, and then I couldn’t get any work for five years.”

Chung also became a victim of Korea’s strict hierarchy in the camera realm.

“You’re supposed to work your way up from the bottom, but as I started off as a d.p., the camera society rejected me, and I considered quitting and opening an ice-cream shop,” he admits.

He got his big break shooting Park Chan-wook’s 2003 thriller, “Oldboy.” Chung has since shot all of Park’s films including Nicole Kidman starrer “Stoker,” his first English-language feature, which debuted at Sundance.

In its review Variety says Chung “appears to be channeling photographer Gregory Crewdson’s eerily high-key Americana in his lighting schemes.”

“My goal is always to translate the director’s imagination into images and give the actors a comfortable working environment,” says Chung, who’s currently based in L.A. where he’s studying English. “I have a lot of work and offers in Korea, but I’d really like to stay and work in America now.”

Favorite tool: “I love Arricam and 35mm. I don’t dislike digital but I much prefer shooting in 35mm though I know I’ll have to make the change now as it’s all going digital.”

Inspiration: “Martin Scorsese’s films really influenced me, especially ‘Raging Bull’ and ‘Taxi Driver.’ And I love Sam Peckinpah’s movies. ‘The Wild Bunch’ is a favorite.”

Representation: WME’s Jasan Pagni, Devin Mann, Holly Jeter

Popular on Variety

More Scene

  • Hailee Steinfeld Dickinson Premiere

    Hailee Steinfeld, Jane Krakowski on What Modern Women Can Learn From Emily Dickinson

    Emily Dickinson lived in the 1800s, but if you ask the team behind Apple TV Plus’ upcoming series, “Dickinson,” her story is more current than ever. Hailee Steinfeld stars in the the modern-day retelling of the poet’s young life. The actress — who makes her first full-time foray into television with the role and also [...]

  • Don Cheadle

    ACLU Bill of Rights Gala to Honor Don Cheadle, Feature Appearances by Selena Gomez, Regina Hall

    The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California will honor “Avengers: Endgame” and “Black Monday” star Don Cheadle at the organization’s annual Bill of Rights dinner on Nov. 17 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Cheadle will be recognized for his activist work as an advocate for racial and gender equality, immigration reform, reproductive and LGBTQ [...]

  • Helen Mirren attends the LA Premiere

    Why Helen Mirren Considers Catherine the Great to Be 'Superhuman'

    It’s no secret that Dame Helen Mirren has a knack for nailing regal roles. Following her Oscar-winning on-screen reign as Queen Elizabeth II back in 2006, the thespian brings yet another powerful ruler to life in HBO’s limited mini-series “Catherine the Great.” Just as she does on the small screen as Russian Empress Catherine II, [...]

  • Taika Waititi Jojo Rabbit Premiere

    Why Director Taika Waititi Decided to Play Adolf Hitler in 'Jojo Rabbit'

    “Fox Searchlight blackmailed me into doing it,” Taika Waititi told Variety of playing Adolf Hilter in “Jojo Rabbit” at the film’s premiere at American Legion Post 43 on Tuesday night in Hollywood. Staying mum when asked which other actors had been on his wish list to play the role, Waititi explained why he eventually decided [...]

  • Jessica Biel Limetown Premiere

    Why 'Limetown' Star & Producer Jessica Biel Thought the Show Was Based on a True Story

    In a world of increasingly outlandish headlines, the story behind “Limetown” — in which an entire community in rural Tennessee disappears overnight — seems plausible. Even Jessica Biel, who executive produces and stars in the Facebook Watch television adaptation of the hit 2015 podcast, was initially convinced that it was real. “I just thought I [...]

  • Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Watchmen

    Yahya Abdul-Mateen II Talks 'Watchmen,' 'Matrix 4': 'I'm Not Nervous At All'

    Yahya Adbul-Mateen II is facing some serious pressure. The actor is in the middle of a massive career surge, taking on roles in HBO’s “Watchmen” and the upcoming “Matrix 4” — and with those roles, the expectations of their fans.  “I have the responsibility of upholding something that was already done while also bringing in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content