LKFF 2022: Kingmaker

  • Director

    Byun Sung-hyun

  • Cast

    Sul Kyoung-gu, Lee Sun-kyun, Yu Jae-myeong, Jo Woo-jin, Park In-hwan

  • Genre

  • Release Date


  • Runtime

    123 mins

  • Cert


  • Awards

    Udine Far East Film Festival 2022 - MYmovies Award

Screening accompanied by introduction


In 2017, the London Korean Film Festival screened Byun Sung-hyun’s double-dealing, chronology-crossing neo-noir The Merciless – and now Byun returns with the latest that he has directed, co-written with regular collaborator Kim Min-soo: a saga of aspiration and ambition, backroom deals and betrayal, all powered by two excellent performances.

Set mostly during the dictatorship of Korea’s third president Park Chung-hee (1963-1979), this tense political period piece tracks the rise of Kim Woon-bum (Sul Kyung-gu) from backwater labour activist to Presidential nominee of the opposition New Democratic party, helped all the way by his Machiavellian man in the shadows Seo Chang-dae (Lee Sun-kyun). In these turbulent, often hopeless times, the film offers a dialectic between Kim’s idealism and Seo’s cynical pragmatism, between ends and means, and between lofty principles and the manipulative spin used to communicate (and compromise) them.


Anton Bitel