Perhaps the movie where you first discovered ‘cineaste’ Koo Kyohwan and his ‘first face’ you remember must be very colorful. In your memory, Koo Kyohwan may be a crazy soldier in the Korean zombie blockbuster Peninsula (2020), which topped the box office in theaters across Asia during the era of the coronavirus pandemic. Or he could be the woman singing with sad eyes on the stage in the independent film Jane (2016). Or maybe you met him for the first time as a director of an unfamiliar and charming independent film.
All of them are Koo Kyohwan and there is one thing in common with ‘All Koo Kyohwan’, who is funny enough to make us die laughing, heartbreakingly beautiful, and radiating madness. It’s the irresistible and indeterminate fascination. A new human race named ‘Koo Kyohwan’ has appeared in Korean cinema.
Entering the film department of Seoul Institute of the Arts to be an actor, he opened his eyes to the whole of ‘making a movie’ beyond ‘a person who appears in a movie,’ and even found out that he was good at it. He made several independent films while writing scenarios, directing, participating as a member of the field staff, and appearing as an actor, and his films distinguished themselves at several independent film festivals.
After showing an unpredictable variety of colors, Koo revealed the destructive power of a ‘unique actor’ from Beaten Black and Blue (2016) and Jane. The gap between the unemployed young man in Beaten Black and Blue, who hides behind the keyboard leaving malicious comments to hold out reality, and the transgender woman who takes care of runaway teenagers in Jane, is extreme, but the actor swept the Best New Actor awards by standing tall at both extremes.
His latest filmography runs extremes as well. Director Lee Okseop’s unfamiliar and realistic love story Maggie (2018) is an independent film in which Koo Kyohwan participated as a screenwriter and producer. Also, he plays a sweet but suspicious protagonist, instilling a unique sense of rhythm in the film. In succession, in Peninsula, a large commercial film and the representative of Korean zombie blockbuster directed by Yeon Sangho, Koo appeared as a sad villain who went crazy to survive. His next film is Netflix Original Series D.P, based on the popular webtoon by Kim Botong. With his eyes looking beyond the abyss, his charisma that makes us breathless, and his sharp and clear voice, now the whole world beyond Korea and Asia will experience the fascination of Koo Kyohwan. Park Hyeeun