Talking Architect

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.

Talking Architect

The Talking Architect (말하는 건축) 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

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.

Talking Architect

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.

According to Jeong, this film is the first of a trilogy. She’s working on the second film, which will focus on the new Seoul City Hall building. Then the third film may be about Dongdaemun Design Park and Plaza by Zaha Hadid, which Chung Guyon criticized.

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: