E J-yong (this is his preferred spelling -- a more conventional spelling would be "Yi Jae-yong") was born in 1966 in Seoul. He studied Turkish at Hankook University of Foreign Studies. After graduating from university, he started studying filmmaking at the Korean Academy of Film Arts.
He first became known for his short film, Homo Videocus (1990) which he co-directed with Daniel H. Byun (Byun Hyeok), and which won the Prix Recherche and Prix de la Jeunesse at the Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival, and the Best Short Narrative award at the 1992 San Francisco Film Festival. In 1994 his documentary project, The Story of a City, was stopped in mid-production due to problems with the production company.
Finally breaking his long silence in 1998, he presented his feature film debut An Affair, which won great acclaim both from audiences and critics for his fine, sophisticated sense of directing. The film, which resurrected the career of actress Lee Mi-sook, was presented at the third Pusan International Film Festival, and went on to become the seventh highest-grossing Korean film of the year.
E's next project in 2000, Asako in Ruby Shoes, is one of the first instances of a Korean-Japanese co-production that utilized cast and crew members in both countries on more or less equal terms. Using a Korean crew for the scenes set in Seoul, and a Japanese crew for the shooting in Japan, the film ultimately proved a failure at the box-office, and received widely divergent critical assessments.
Then in the fall of 2003, E presented his costume drama Untold Scandal, based on the French novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses but set in 18th-century Korea. An unexpected smash hit, it set a new record for the biggest opening weekend for a Korean film and went on to sell over three million tickets. The film also marked the acting debut of TV actor Bae Yong-joon, who would go on to become a popular sensation in Japan in 2004.
E's most recent film, a short titled Joy of Love, was released on-line in late 2004.
Essays and Thoughts
Awards and Honors
2004 Shanghai Int'l Film Festival:
Best Director, Best Music (Lee Byung-woo) and Best Visual and Sound Effects to Untold Scandal
2004 Verona Film Festival (Schermi D'Amore):
"Stefano Reggiani" prize from the Veneto's Order of Journalists, plus the festival's award for "Best Artistic, Technical, or Creative Contribution" to Untold Scandal
4th Newport Beach International Film Festival:
Asian Cinema Kaleidoscope Prize to An Affair
1999 Verona Film Festival (Schermi D'Amore):
Best Artistic, Technical, or Creative Contribution, plus the Critics Prize to An Affair
1999 Fukuoka Asian Film Festival:
Grand Prize to An Affair
1992 San Francisco Film Festival:
Best Short Narrative to Homo Videocus
1991 Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival:
Prix Recherche (Research Prize) and Prix de la Jeunesse (Youth Jury Prize) to Homo Videocus