Korean Movies

Korean Movies

 

North Korea doesn’t have much of a film industry, so this look at Korean movies is strictly limited to those works produced in South Korea. The film industry experienced a major boom in the late 1990s, and this success has carried over into the new millennium. With projects boasting high production values, original and challenging   Séries Netflix    storylines, and plenty of talented and attractive actors, Korean movies have garnered international acclaim with no sign of slowing down.

The following list is intended to be an introduction to the cinema of South Korea. You’ll notice that the oldest film on the list was released in 1998, but that was an intentional choice on my part. I want to get viewers who are unaccustomed to foreign films interested, and I’m guessing that including Korean movies from the ’60s and ’70s isn’t the best way to go about this.

Oldboy (2003) – The second film in director Park Chan-wook’s Vengeance Trilogy, Oldboy tells the story of businessman Oh Dae-Su (Choi Min-sik). Captured and imprisoned in a hotel room for unknown reasons, he’s released after 15 years and tasked with finding the identity of his captor. What follows is a wickedly beautiful tale of revenge and forbidden love. Voters on CNN named it one of the 10 best Asian films ever made, and it’s drawn rave reviews from Quentin Tarantino.

Attack the Gas Station (1999) – A gang of likable thugs rob a gas station at the beginning of the movie, and then they turn right around and rob it again the next night. But this time the manager has stashed the cash, and so the quartet of hooligans kidnap the employees, pump the gas themselves, and keep the money. As they fend off bullies, cops, and deadbeat customers, they become more sympathetic and learn a few things about themselves.

Barking Dogs Never Bite (2000) – The directorial debut of Bong Joon-ho (The Host), this film revolves around an out-of-work college professor who’s driven up the wall by the barking dogs in his apartment complex. Resorting to abuse and kidnapping to silence them, he’s soon pursued by a plucky young employee at the building (Bae Doona). In case you’re wondering, it’s a dark comedy.

Thirst (2009) – Park Chan-wook helms this tale of a priest who gets turned into a vampire due to a failed medical experiment. As he tries to cope with his condition, he falls for the abused wife of an old friend–with rather bloody results.

The Quiet Family (1998) – Combining horror and dark comedy, this Korean film centers around a family who opens a lodge for hikers, but their clients always end up dying. Korean stars Song Kang-ho and Choi Min-sik co-star.

Joint Security Area (2002) – When two soldiers are killed in the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, a special investigative unit is dispatched to get to the truth. Quentin Tarantino named it one of his 20 favorite films since 1992.

Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (2005) – The final film in Park Chan-wook’s Vengeance Trilogy, the motion picture follows a mild-mannered woman just released from prison for the murder of a schoolboy. It turns out that she’s innocent, and every day spent in prison was a day she was plotting revenge against the man who was actually guilty of the crime. A delicious tale of revenge and high-heel pumps.

The Host (2006) – An average Korean family is nearly torn apart when their youngest member is captured and drug into the sewers by a mutated amphibious monster. Pooling their talents together, they seek to rescue the girl and destroy the loathsome creature. Directed by Bong Joon-ho, it’s the highest-grossing South Korean film of all time.

Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002) – The first film in Park Chan

 


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