Presented by Positive Byte

North American premiere
Cheval Noir Competition


Directed by Lee Su-jin


Official selection

Berlin International Film Festival 2019


Lee Su-jin


Lee Su-jin


Sul Kyung-gu, Han Seok-kyu, Chun Woo-hee



South Korea 2019 144 mins OV Korean Subtitles : English
Genre DramaThriller

“A head-spinning thrill ride… technically masterful and stylistically polished”
Marko Stojiljkovic, ASIAN MOVIE PULSE

When you go into politics, it's better to not have skeletons in your closet — or a bloody body at your doorstep. Councilor Koo Myung-hui aspires to the governorship, until the day his son Johan commits a hit-and-run. Worse, Johan brings the body of his hapless victim home. Unyeilding as an oak, Myung-hui demands that Johan turn himself in, and dump the corpse by the side of the road to diminish his guilt. After the victim's identification, his father, Joon-sik, is devastated by the loss of his boy, Bu-nam, to whom he had dedicated his life, due to the intellectual disability that afflicted him. Disgruntled with Johan’s lenient sentence, he conducts an investigation and discovers that the circumstances surrounding the incident are much more nebulous and distorted than they appear. Only Ryeon-hwa, an illegal Chinese immigrant who was to be married to Bu-nam to obtain citizenship, holds the key to the riddle. Myung-hui and Joon-sik both seek her, for diametrically opposed reasons.

Five years after the release of HAN GONG-JU, a true masterpiece that distinguished itself on the festival circuit, earned the praise of the great Martin Scorsese and won an Audience Award right here at Fantasia, Lee Su-jin finally returns with his second feature film. IDOL is a dark, fascinating and bloody psychological thriller that trenchantly addresses universal themes such as immigration, class struggle and morality, a bold narrative work that impresses with its visual prowess. It’s the performances, however, that make this neo-noir stands out the most. Actors Han Seok-kyu (THE BERLIN FILE) and Sul Kyung-gu (HAEUNDAE) deliver extremely convincing performances, but it’s the sublime Chun Woo-hee (THE WAILING), with whom Lee teams up again, who steals the show with intensity, authenticity and charisma. Selected at the Berlinale 2019, IDOL undeniably fits in the lineage of the flagship Korean revenge-thriller films. – Nicolas Archambault