Hwang Dong-hyuk

Last updated


Hwang Dong-hyuk
Born (1971-05-26) May 26, 1971 (age 50)
Other namesHwang Dong-hyeuk
Education Seoul National University (B.A.)
University of Southern California (M.F.A.)
Occupation Film director, screenwriter
Years active2000-present
Notable work
Squid Game
Korean name
Revised Romanization Hwang Dong-hyeok
McCune–Reischauer Hwang Tonghyŏk

Hwang Dong-hyuk (Korean : 황동혁, Hanja: 黃東赫, born 1971) is a South Korean film director, producer and screenwriter. He is best known for directing the 2011 crime drama film Silenced and for creating the 2021 Netflix survival drama series Squid Game .


Short films

Hwang Dong-hyuk was born and raised in Seoul, South Korea. After he graduated from Seoul National University with a B.A. in Communications, he wrote and directed numerous short films including Our Sad Life and A Puff of Smoke. Moving to Los Angeles to study for a M.F.A. in Film Production at the University of Southern California, he continued to make films, completing two shorts Heaven & Hell and Desperation (2000). His graduation thesis film was Miracle Mile (2004), a short starring Karl Yune as a Korean-American illegal taxi driver who helps his fare, a young Korean woman (played by Hana Kim) search for her brother who was adopted by Americans 20 years ago. Miracle Mile screened at over 40 international film festivals and won several awards, including the DGA Student Film Award and Student Emmy Award. [1]

My Father

For his feature film debut, Hwang returned to the topic of adoption in My Father (2007). Based on the true story of Korean-American adoptee Aaron Bates, the film is about a U.S. Army soldier stationed in Korea who appears on national television to search for his birth parents, then finds his father on death row for murder. Kim Yeong-cheol played the father opposite lead actor Daniel Henney, whom Hwang decided to cast despite the latter being typecast as a heartthrob. Henney and Kim were praised for their acting, as was Hwang for his non-melodramatic handling of forgiveness and acceptance, intertwined with issues of cultural identity and the death penalty. [2] [3]

The Crucible (Silenced)

Hwang's second film became one of the biggest stories in Korean cinema in 2011. [4] Based on a novel by Gong Ji-young and starring Gong Yoo and Jung Yu-mi, [5] The Crucible (also known as Silenced) depicts real-life events at the Gwangju Inhwa School for the deaf where young students were cruelly treated and sexually abused by their teachers and administrators. [6] Hwang said he deliberated for about a month whether or not he should make the film, but decided to do it because "It had to be told." [7] Hwang said, "I thought about two things when making this film. First, I wanted to let the world know about this horrific incident. Secondly, I wanted to expose the structural problems of society as revealed during the process of how the case was buried. The issues portrayed in the movie -- sexual violence against children, corrupt ties between police and influential families, negligence of duty by civil servants -- is not fictitious, but can be seen regularly on the daily news." [8]

The movie became a box-office hit in Korea, attracting 4.7 million viewers. But more significantly, it provoked widespread public anger and commentary, such that the case was reopened and lawmakers passed the "Dogani Bill" which abolishes the statute of limitations for sex crimes against minors and the disabled. Hwang said, "I took up filmmaking because I was so frustrated by all these unresolved social issues I saw. We can see through films how much we are changed by the world. You can't change society with just one movie, but looking at the repercussion of the release of this film, we can think about the power film has in terms of positively affecting society." [8]

Miss Granny

In a significant departure from his previous films, Hwang's third feature Miss Granny (titled Suspicious Girl in Korean) focuses on a 74-year-old woman who regains the appearance of her 20-year-old self (played by Na Moon-hee and Shim Eun-kyung, respectively), in a movie that straddles comedy, family drama, music and romance. Hwang said at the 2014 film's press conference, "With My Father and Silenced, I always seemed to be making social films with dark subject matter, but in reality, I am a fun person. This time I really wanted to make a happy and light film." [9] [10] Strong word of mouth propelled Miss Granny to the top of the box office chart, with more than 8.65 million admissions.

The Fortress

Based on Kim Hoon's novel Namhansanseong (the Korean title for the movie as well), The Fortress stars Lee Byung-hun and Kim Yoon-seok as rival advisors to King Injo at a critical moment during the Second Manchu invasion of Korea. A subtle tour de force in a totally different genre from Hwang's previous movies, it claimed both a popular and critical success with 3.8 million tickets sold in Korea, a distribution to 28 countries, and many awards across Asia.

Squid Game

Hwang had conceived of the idea for Squid Game based on his own economic struggles early in life as well as the class disparity found within South Korea. Though initially scripted in 2008, Hwang was unable to find a production studio to find support for the script until around 2019, when Netflix invested in it as part of their drive to expand their foreign programming offerings. Released on September 17, 2021, it became the most-watched series launch in Netflix history. [11] The stress of creating the series caused him to lose six of his teeth. [12] Due to Squid Game's success, Netflix brought Hwang's previous films Silenced, Miss Granny, and The Fortress to the service in the United States and other countries. [13]


2000Our sad LifeYesNoYesShort Film
2000A Puff of SmokeYesNoYes
2000Heaven & HellYesNoNo
2000I Love Ultra LottoNoNoNoShort Film, Cinematographer, Editor
2004Big TimeNoNoNoShort Film, Production Assistant
2004Miracle MileYesNoYesShort Film, Editor
2005Truck Stop DinerNoNoNoShort Film, Actor, Grip
2007 My Father YesNoYesAdapted Screenplay
2011 Silenced YesNoYes
2014 Miss Granny YesNoNo
2017 The Fortress YesNoYes
2020 Collectors NoYesNoAdapted Screenplay
2021 Squid Game YesNoYes Netflix original series, Creator

Awards and nominations

Name of the award ceremony, year presented, category, nominee of the award, and the result of the nomination
Award ceremonyYearCategoryNominee / WorkResultRef.
Beautiful Artist Award
(Shin Young-kyun Arts and Culture Foundation)
2021Film Artist AwardHwang Dong-hyukWon [14]
Visionary Awards [upper-alpha 1] 2021 VisionaryWon [16]


  1. Visionary Awards, which started in 2020, selects and awards people who lead roles in the Korean entertainment industry. It highlights the meaning and achievements of a person whose chosen trend keywords penetrated the entertainment industry, including broadcasting, movies, music, and performances, and presents the next vision of the cultural sector with outstanding achievements and influence. [15]

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