Recent years have proven South Korea’s prowess in the realm of filmmaking alongside its excellent music and addictive dramas. While we’re all well aware of Parasite’s Oscar sweep at the Academy Awards and Squid Game’s mindboggling commercial success, that’s not all Korea has to offer. The industry has always been at the forefront of progressive, engaging, and experimental movies. We have researched and found some of the most memorable South Korean films across genres. Read on to learn more.
1. The Housemaid – 1960 (Dir. Kim Ki-Young)
The Housemaid is known to be one of the best South Korean films ever made. This crime-thriller was inspired by the story of how a domestic helper upheaved the lives of a Korean family. In the movie, the housemaid is played by the incomparable Lee Eun-Shin who shines with nuance. The movie tackles social issues and is an entrancing tale of complicated family relationships in a way that is reminiscent of Parasite.
2. The Host – 2006 (Dir. Bong Joon-Ho)
For fans of Parasite, visit the director’s classic monster drama “The Host”. It’s part a horror film about a tentacled monster wreaking havoc on the Han River shoreline and part critique of the class system, mass hysteria, bureaucracy, consumerism, and environmental issues.
The movie centers around a dysfunctional family united in their pursuit to save their young daughter from the monster’s clutches. The film expertly straddles the line between heart-stopping action and tear-jerking moments of genuine emotion – all buoyed by an excellent script.
3. On The Occasion Of Remembering The Turning Gate – 2002 (Hong Sangsoo)
The film is one of the earliest projects helmed by legendary director Hong Sangsoo. The story is a layered narrative that delves into the psyche and emotions of a young actor. It is a story about his love affairs and friendship. A fair bit of nuance goes with the movie, so be prepared to dissect the story for a while after watching it.
4. The Wailing – 2016 (Dir. Na Hong-Jin)
The Wailing is a masterclass in building horror in a film. It is a long saga that doesn’t drag on in the slightest, ambitiously packing in common horror tropes in new and inventive ways. The film is perfectly disharmonious, a contradiction that only raises interest. Follow the story of a police offer trying to save a village from a virus before it can reach his daughter. The story takes place authentically, despite its premise, and will leave you wanting more.
5. Peppermint Candy – 2000 (Lee Chang-Dong)
Peppermint Candy is the directorial debut of the acclaimed screenwriter. It starts with a man throwing himself in front of the train and then taking you back through his life so you can watch the events that lead to that point unfold. You get decades of intricate history and chilling events that will make you question everything.
South Korea has been touted as a film haven – for a good reason! The country has produced capable filmmakers, intriguing stories, and unparalleled actors for years. If you’ve ever felt the urge to understand the stories on a deeper level, why not take a Korean language course at Sejong? We provide impeccable lessons with native speakers, so you’ll be able to get a better grasp of the language in no time. Contact us today to learn more!