Park Chan-wook made a triumphant return to Cannes at the 75th film festival with his murder mystery love story, “Decision to Leave.” The last time the South Korean filmmaker was in the South of France at the Palais was in 2016 with his smash, “The Handmaiden.”

“After going through that long tunnel of the pandemic, that means a lot more to me than being here after six years,” the director tells Variety, in conversation at the Variety Studio presented by Campari at the Cannes Film Festival. “The fact that the audience has been distancing themselves from the cinemas [and] now I can finally present my film to those audiences, that’s quite something very special and I’m filled with emotions.”

“Decision to Leave,” which stars Tang Wei and Park Hae-il, was initially inspired by a Korean pop song that Park Chan-wook loved when he was a young boy. When he conceived the film, he always had Tang in mind as his female lead, before casting her male co-star. And so, her role and the language her character speaks was written specifically for the Chinese actress to mirror her real life. (In the film, Tang’s character speaks Chinese and a form of Korean that is described as particularly formal, due to the character having learned the language as a foreigner.)

Some critics were surprised that “Decision to Leave” is less violent and graphic than his past work. At a press conference in Cannes, one journalist asked about the lack of violence and sex. Speaking to Variety with his English translator, Park says, “I’m totally fine with that because it was me who made everyone expect that kind of thing from me…they were not forced to think that way…I was the one.”

Park — whose work has been seen in both traditional venues and streaming platforms (his “Little Drummer Girl” series was an original for BBC One, but streamed on Amazon) — believes in the theatrical experience “because the audience gets to see it at the optimum conditions,” but he says, “I will not avoid any” streamers.

“Platforms don’t matter to me,” Park says. “I will keep on discovering and telling the stories that are most suitable for each platform.”

However, he does see the immense value in the rise of streaming contributing to more eyeballs on foreign filmmaking, that a decade ago, was harder to easily consume.

“It’s definitely got its advantages and merits, especially for the directors who make contents in non-English language,” he says. “But that doesn’t mean that the director has to make original contents or original films for that platform. He or she can definitely bring their previous works [and] feature length films onto that streaming platform to reach out to wider audience.”

In recent years, Korean television, film and music has boomed internationally and in America, thanks to the popularity of “Squid Game,” which became one of Netflix’s most popular shows, in addition to record-breaking pop groups like BTS and Blackpink.

In 2019, “Parasite” premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, becoming the first South Korean film to win the Palme d’Or. It went all the way through awards season, making history once again, as the first non-English language film to win the Academy Award for best picture. The film also won best original screenplay, best international feature film and best director for Bong Joon-ho, who is a friend of Park.

” ‘Parasite’ was a decisive moment. It was a historical event,” says Park. “You could even categorize films Before ‘Parasite’ and After ‘Parasite.’ So, not only in the history of Korean cinema, but in the history of non-English films, I think that film has a very special position in history.”

“And, of course, ‘Squid Game’ too,” the director continues. “Through these contents, through these films and in the TV series now, the directors with films in non-English language can get a lot closer to a wider audience all around the world.”

Speaking of Bong and “Squid Game” creator, Hwang Dong-hyuk, he adds, “These two directors are very good friends of mine and I’m very proud of them.”