This week, T: The New York Times Style Magazine publishes “The Greats,” a package featuring masters in various artistic fields, profiled by great writers. There are seven profiles, and seven different covers to go with them.
Included is novelist Alexander Chee’s profile of Korean director Park Chan-wook, who has become the most celebrated filmmaker in Korea despite his informal training.
Park is an autodidact, a self-taught auteur. This wasn’t just by choice; the 1980s Korea in which he came of age had only a few film schools, and no serious cinematic culture for him to either engage with or ignore. He had only the American Forces Korea Network, a television channel famous for airing foreign movies, often without subtitles. (If there were subtitles, they were in English, not in Korean.) Park remembers watching these on his family’s black-and-white television. Later, he had his university’s cinema club, which showed…
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