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Park Chan-wook Joins A24 for ‘The Sympathizer,’ His TV Return After ‘Little Drummer Girl’

Viet Thanh Nguyen's Pulitzer Prize winner is becoming a television series.

THE HANDMAIDEN, (aka AH-GA-SSI), director PARK Chan-wook on set, 2016. ©Magnolia Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection

Park Chan-wook on the set of “The Handmaiden”

©Magnolia Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

Novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen announced on social media this week (via Vulture) that his Pulitzer Prize-winning 2016 book “The Sympathizer” is getting a television series adaptation, courtesy of Park Chan-wook and A24. While A24 has not responded to IndieWire’s request for comment, the indie studio and distributor did re-share Nguyen’ posts to its own social media pages. The project will bring Park Chan-wook back to television following his 2018 limited series “The Little Drummer Girl,” which starred Florence Pugh, Alexander Skarsgård, and Michael Shannon.

“Thrilled to finally announce that A24 has optioned ‘The Sympathizer’ for TV, with director Park Chan-wook, whose films include ‘The Handmaiden,'” Nguyen wrote on Twitter. “His ‘Oldboy’ was a big influence on ‘The Sympathizer,’ and I can’t imagine a better person to direct this TV adaptation.”

Nguyen added, “I hope Park Chan-wook, who did wonders with the octopus in ‘Oldboy,’ will be equally imaginative with the squid in ‘The Sympathizer…'”

A hybrid of historical fiction and the spy genre, “The Sympathizer” centers around a mole from North Vietnam embedded in the South Vietnamese army. When the mole is exiled to the United States, he remains rooted in a local South Vietnamese community and becomes an advisor to an American film about the Vietnam War (think classics like “Platoon” or “Apocalypse Now”). The mole eventually returns to Vietnam to fight back against the communists.

News of “The Sympathizer” television adaptation comes at a busy time for Park Chan-wook, whose last release was the 2018 series “The Little Drummer Girl.” In October 2020, Park started filming the romantic murder mystery “Decision to Leave” with actors Park Hye-il (best known for Bong Joon Ho’s “The Host” and “Memories of Murder”) and Tang Wei (Ang Lee’s “Lust, Caution” and Michael Mann’s “Blackhat”). The project marked Park’s return to filmmaking after the 2016 release of “The Handmaiden.” The film follows a detective who falls for a mysterious widow after she becomes the number one suspect in his latest murder investigation.

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