Movie Review: Talking Architect

Written by on June 8, 2012 in Worldwide Korea Bloggers

* This post is written by Johanne Miller, one of the Korea Blog’s Worldwide Korea Bloggers.

Back when I was contemplating my future, I thought of being an architect. Unfortunately, the university I chose to attend did not have an architectural program. I may not have formally studied architecture, but I’ll forever be a student and an admirer of it. So when the Seoul City Blog wrote about a Korean independent movie ‘Talking Architect’ and offered 10 people to watch it for free, I jumped at the chance. I immediately emailed the person in charge and got 2 tickets for free. Reading the title alone made me want to watch the movie.

The Talking Architect (말하는 건축가) is a documentary about Korean architect Chung Guyon (정기용). It is reputedly the first theatrical documentary of a Korean architect and of Korea’s contemporary architecture.

Talking Architect movie poster from

Talking Architect movie poster from

The film starts with Chung Guyon revisiting a few of his creations, explaining how he conceptualized the designs and speaking frankly what’s become of it now. A maverick architect who studied in France (hence the English translation of his Korean name), he studied and incorporated the community and nature in each of his works.

“Both the problems and solutions are inherent in the land.” ~Chung Guyon  

He spoke much and he spoke well. The film follows Chung Guyon as he helps the curator at the Ilmin Museum of Art organize an exhibit about his life and works. Fellow architects would comment about him, his works, his opinions, and architecture in general thus providing a broader view of Korean modern architecture.

After watching the film, we were given a rare opportunity to talk to the director of the film, Jeong Jae-eun (정재은). Jeong said that her curiosity about Korean uniform cityscapes and building processes prompted her to make this film. She did much research and talked to architects who recommended her to follow Chung Guyon.

Though Chung Guyon did lots of work all over the country, Jeong focused on the architect in hopes that it will prompt viewers to go see his works. She titled the film Talking Architect simply because he talked throughout the 350-400 hours of footage she took.

If you have the chance, go watch the movie. It provides insight on Korean architecture and on life. And, like me, make you want to check out a place in Insadong called Imojip where Chung Guyon talked about having delicious grilled bulgogi.

I honestly loved the movie. I would love to live in a tranquil house where time stood still and also hope to face death with dignity and sparkling eyes.

For more information about the Talking Architect and where you can watch it with English subtitles, check out their website. Here’s the trailer for the movie:


※ Editor’s note: Currently, KU Cinema Trap is the only theater that provides English subtitles.

About the Author


The Korea Blog was launched on January 31, 2011 by the Korean Culture and Information Service (KOCIS), a part of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. This blog aims to show the hip and contemporary side of Korean life and culture.