(ATTN: ADDS more info, comments in paras 4, 7, 10, 12-13, new photos)
By Kim Boram
SEOUL, April 14 (Yonhap) -- "Decision to Leave" by renowned Korean director Park Chan-wook and "Broker" by award-winning Japanese auteur Hirokazu Kore-eda were selected for the competition section of the 75th Cannes Film Festival.
In the official selection announced by the festival Thursday, the two Korean films were among 18 works competing for the highest honor, the Palme d'Or, this year.
It is the first time in five years that two Korean films have been invited to the official competition section since 2017, when Bong Joon-ho's "Okja" and Hong Sang-soo's "The Day After" made the list.
Last year, no Korean-made films were contending at the world's most prestigious film fest. Two films -- Hong Sang-soo's "In Front of Your Face" and Han Jae-rim's "Emergency Declaration" -- were listed in non-competition sections.
"Broker" is written and directed by Japanese director Kore-eda, who took home the Palme d'Or for "Shoplifters" in 2018, but produced by Korean companies, like CJ ENM, and starring Korean actors, including Song Kang-ho of "Parasite."
It is the Cannes-winning director's first Korean-language project about adoption, featuring the relationships of characters formed through a baby box, where people anonymously drop off newborns that they can't raise.
"It's Hirokazu Kore-eda with a movie made in Korea. Korea is very attractive to movies," said Thierry Fremaux, artistic director of the annual film festival, during a press conference streamed online. "We find here again one of the greatest Korean actors, and a former member of the jury, Song Kang-ho, who is playing in this movie."
Park, who has won two titles at Cannes for "Oldboy" (2003) and "Thirst" (2009), returned to Cannes in six years since "The Handmaiden" was invited to the competition in 2016.
His most recent film "Decision to Leave" is about a detective who suspects a mysterious widow in a murder case and later becomes interested in her. Chinese actress Tang Wei of "Lust, Caution" (2007) and Korean actor Park Hae-il star in the film.
"It's meaningful to participate in a film festival in the midst of the pandemic," the director said through local distributor CJ ENM. "I'll see as many films as possible at Cannes and will give a standing ovation to them longer than any other people there."
At the same time, the spy action film "Hunt," which is "Squid Game" star Lee Jung-jae's directorial debut, was invited to the festival's out-of-competition "Midnight Screenings."
"Thank you so much to the Cannes Film Festival," Lee said in a statement. "It's an honor to have the premier of my first directorial film at Cannes."
This year's Cannes Film Festival will kick off on May 17 and run through May 28.