In this day and age, it seems like everything that’s good about Korean culture is constantly being exported to the rest of the world.

From K-pop to Korean barbecue, not a week goes by without some new development on the Korean entertainment scene. That includes Korean movies, which have become increasingly popular in recent years.

Korean cinema has been one of the most cinematically vibrant cultures in the history of cinema.

Known for its bold subject matter, unique genre-blending, and extreme style, it’s no wonder that some of the best foreign films come from this country.

And Korean cinema is quickly gaining prominence on the world stage, especially in countries like the United States and United Kingdom.

The best Korean movies are generally well-written, beautifully shot, and often based on true stories.

This list includes some of the most famous Korean films, but it is by no means complete.

These are the top Korean movies ever made, ranked by movie fans who know the best in film. Some of these great movies are even streaming on Netflix and Amazon Prime.
 

Best Korean Movies

What Are korean movies?

Korean movies are popular internationally, with a growing audience of fans in the Americas and Europe.

They have spread through cinema and television, although there are no significant numbers of Korean movie stars or directors in Hollywood.

However, the Korean film industry is really kicking into gear, producing movies that challenge the Hollywood establishment.

Korean movies can be grouped into several different genres, each with its own unique characteristics.

There’s the classic Korean film genre known as ‘melodramas,’ which are generally focused on character development and emotions.

‘Comedies’ are also very popular in Korea, but they’re not very well known outside of Asia. This is because most Western countries have a slightly different sense of humor than South Korea does.

Lastly, there are ‘thrillers,’ which tend to focus on action and suspense more than anything else.

 

 

Best Korean Movies Of All Time

The following are some of the best Korean movies audiences have enjoyed worldwide.

​​Hope  Lee Joon-Ik  2013

Hope Lee Joon IK (born September 10, 1982) is a South Korean actor. He began his career as a fashion model before becoming one of the most popular and critically acclaimed actors in contemporary Korean cinema.

He has received nominations for several acting awards, including two Best Actor prizes at the Grand Bell Awards and Blue Dragon Film Awards.

Hope Lee Joon I.K. was born in Seoul, South Korea. His father is a pastor of the Evangelical Baptist Church, and his mother is a housewife. Hope Lee Joon I.K.’s family moved to the United States when he was in fifth grade.

Hope Lee Joon I.K. lived in Georgia until his sophomore year of high school, when he returned to South Korea to attend Gwangju Jaeil High School. While attending Gwangju Jaeil High School, Hope Lee Joon I.K. took part in theater productions and became interested in acting.

In 2001, after graduating high school, Hope Lee Joon I.K. enlisted in the military, serving as a combat soldier in the Artillery Corps for two years. After his discharge from military service, Hope Lee Joon I.K. made his entertainment debut as a runway model for clothing brands. 

Sunny
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Joo Jin-mo, Jung Jin-young, Soo Ae (Actors)
  • Lee Joon-ik (Director) - Seok-Hwan Choi (Writer) - Jung Se Lee (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

Pietà  Kim Ki-Duk  2012

I had the privilege of seeing this film at The Roxie film center. I am so happy to have the opportunity to see it here in San Francisco and will certainly go again.

I was lucky enough to see both the English and Korean versions. The story is of a mother who lost her son and her husband, which left her with severe mental illness. She spends most of her time sitting outside of a church in a wheelchair with a giant cross around her neck and a Jesus statue on it.

She lives with the help of her daughter-in-law, who occasionally takes care of her, but mostly ignores her existence.

A gangster kills her son, leaving his body in front of his parent’s doorstep. Her husband, who is also a cop, avenges the gangster by killing him and then commits suicide.

All accounts beautifully shoot the movie showing life as it really is, with all its sadness mixed with hope for better lives or at least accepting what has happened. Many interesting shots are unique for this type of film (pardon me if I don’t know precisely what they are called). 

Pieta (English Subtitled)
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Min-soo Jo, Jung-Jin Lee, Ki-Hong Woo (Actors)
  • Kim Ki-Duk (Director) - Kim Ki-Duk (Writer) - Kim Ki-Duk (Producer)
  • English (Subtitle)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

Thirst  Park Chan-Wook  2009

Thirst is the latest in a long line of vampire films. The film revolves around a Catholic priest, Sang-Hyun, whose life changes when he finds himself attracted to Song, a mysterious woman who a local gangster and his thug are seeking.

The film opens with Sang-Hyun at Mass with his congregation. He has been at the church for some time and has taken over from his predecessor. Sang-Hyun is portrayed as having a close relationship with God and is always quoting scripture.

On the way home from work one day, Sang-Hyun finds himself drawn to Song, who is hiding in the back seat of a car belonging to the local gangster Kim Joo-Wan and his thug, Jung Tae-San.

During the attack on Song by Joo-Wan’s thugs, Sang-Hyun defends her by beating up the thugs and driving them away. He gives her a lift home, and she tells him her story, she was married, but her husband died in an accident, leaving her to bring up their son alone. She eventually left him to be brought up by her sister’s family in Seoul.

Kim Joo-Wan then arrives at Song’s house, asking for her hand in marriage so that he can adopt her son Chan.

Pieta - Special Edition
  • German (Subtitle)
  • German (Publication Language)
  • Audience Rating: Unrated (Not Rated)

The Host Bong Joon-ho 2006

The Host is a 2007 South Korean monster film directed by Bong Joon-ho. It premiered in South Korea on July June 8, 2007, and was released in the United States on August 29, 2007. The film stars Song Kang-ho, Byeon Hee-bong, and Park Hae-il and follows members of a family who fight a mutant creature as it wanders around the capital city Seoul.

Told from the perspective of characters who themselves are telling the story of what occurred to them, the film offers a satirical view of a society overwhelmed by greed and corruption.

The Host was chosen as South Korea’s official Best Foreign Language Film nomination for the 80th Academy Awards. South Korea also chose the film as its submission to the Oscars but did not make the final shortlist. In 2008 it was named one of ten outstanding movies of 2007 by the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures.

It won several awards, including Grand Bell Awards for Best Picture and Best Actor (Bong Joon-ho), Asian Film Awards for Best Film, Director, Screenplay and Special Effects, Sitges – Catalan International Film Festival for Best Director and Audience Award (Bong Joon-ho), Fantasporto for Best Film.

The Host
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Kang-ho Song, Byun Hee-bong, Park Hae-il (Actors)
  • Bong Joon-ho (Director) - Bong Joon Ho (Writer) - Yong-bae Choi (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

On the Occasion of Remembering the Turning Gate Hong Sangsoo 2002

I’ve been thinking about a couple of things related to the film but not about the film itself. The first is about how viewers watch films, namely how we do so passively, and the other is about my feelings toward Hong Sangsoo’s films. I know that this sounds like a pretty strange jumping-off point, but bear with me.

In a sense, watching a film is much like seeing paintings in a museum. You go into the gallery and stand in front of the painting for as long as you want. You can stare at it with your mouth agape or walk around it and look at it from different angles and distances.

Maybe you’ll stay for 10 minutes, or maybe you’ll stay for an hour, but in either case, you’re free to leave whenever you choose.

No one will notice if you don’t stay long enough to appreciate the painting, although they might notice if you’re there for too long (this is why most museums have time limits). And if someone else comes up to look at the painting while you’re standing there, it doesn’t matter.

The painting doesn’t care whether other people are looking at it at any time. It will still be there when you come back later on.

Fleabag Season 1
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Sian Clifford, Olivia Colman (Actors)
  • Tim Kirkby (Director) - Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Writer) - Two Brothers Pictures Ltd (Producer)

Il Mare Lee Hyun-Seung 2000

It’s been 10 years since the release of Il Mare, and once again, our old friend Lee Hyun-Seung is starring in a movie.

I was at the premiere of Il Mare yesterday, and I was surprised by the presence of original director Yoo Jae-moon. The director said he came to support Lee Hyun-Seung, and it made me think that Lee Hyun-Seung had done an excellent job, as most directors don’t show up at their cast member’s premieres.

Il Mare was a movie that dealt with people who had come to terms with their dreams giving way to reality. It was also about the sadness that comes when you have to accept that reality and move on. Many things might have changed in 10 years, but people still struggle with the same issues as they did back then.

As for the movie itself, it’s similar to the original, except that you get to see much more of Jeon Ji-Hyun than you did 10 years ago. The original story revolved around Lee Hyun-Seung and Suh Jung, but this time around, there seems to be a lot more focus on Jeon Ji-Hyun’s character, which makes sense considering how big she has been in the industry.

Il Mare
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Jun Ji-hyun, Kim Mu-saeng, Lee Jung-jae (Actors)
  • Lee Hyun-seung (Director) - Eun-Jeong Kim (Writer) - Jo Min-Hwan (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

New World Park Hoon-Jung 2013

The Ministry of Unification (MoU) has agreed to establish a joint venture with the Sejong Institute, a private think tank, to open the New World Park Hoon-Jung 2013 in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, on May 20.

I’m proud that the people’s expectations for unification and peace can be fulfilled through this project,” said Won Hong-guen, director of the MoU’s International Cooperation Bureau. “The park will function as a place where the public can feel reconciliation and peace.”

The three-story park is expected to attract 500,000 visitors annually in its first year, with construction costing over 18 billion won. The park will be built on an area of 10,500 square meters and will have exhibitions focusing on various aspects of unification and culture.

There are plans for a theater for unification-themed dramas and performances and facilities for reunions between separated families.

President Lee Myung-bak initiated the project during his time in office from 2008 to 2013. “The president envisioned that this concept could take root from Paju and become a symbol for unification,” said Yoo Hoi-Hyun, director general for Inter-Korean Exchange at the MoU

Il Mare
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Jun Ji-hyun, Kim Mu-saeng, Lee Jung-jae (Actors)
  • Lee Hyun-seung (Director) - Eun-Jeong Kim (Writer) - Jo Min-Hwan (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

The Dark Figure of Crime Kim Tae-Gyun 2019

The dark figure of crime is a concept that refers to the crimes that are hidden from the justice system, such as sexual assault and domestic violence.

According to data from national police agencies, there were 1,571,822 reported criminal offenses in Korea in 2017. The number of cases excluded from the figure includes 1) cases handled by prosecutors, 2) traffic violations, and 3) juvenile crimes.

Taken together, these excluded cases outnumber the crimes reported by police (1,571,822). This means that a great deal of crime goes unseen and uninvestigated by the authorities. In other words, despite all the crimes reported to the police each year, only a fraction of those cases are actually taken to court. The rest remain unsolved or go unreported.^

The dark figure of crime is a concept first identified by sociologist Émile Durkheim in his book Suicide (1897). Durkheim argued that suicide was underreported because family members often cover up for relatives who take their own lives.

He also believed that many suicides went unreported because doctors and coroners may have difficulty finding an official cause of death. Despite this difficulty, he concluded that suicide was much more common than official records claimed.

The Big Lebowski
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Julianne Moore (Actors)
  • Joel Coen (Director) - Joel Coen (Writer) - Ethan Coen (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

The Bow Kim Ki-Duk 2005

The Bow (Korean: 가라앉히지마, also transliterated as Garaseum) is a 2005 South Korean film directed by award-winning director Kim Ki-Duk. It was his first feature film since his departure from the Fine Cut Company in 2000.

The Bow is one of Kim’s most critically acclaimed films and has won many awards, including the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. After its theatrical release in other countries, the film garnered further success and has been hailed as “a masterpiece” by both critics and audiences. The film was ranked 5th in the 2007 Village Voice Film Poll. The film was also nominated for Best Director at the European Film Awards. It achieved number 14 in Empire magazine’s 2008 list of the 100 best films of world cinema.*

The story follows an actress who returns to her hometown in rural Korea to make a new start after ten years of living as a dancer in Seoul. However, her new life is turned upside down when she discovers that her younger sister has died under mysterious circumstances. Haunted by guilt and anxiety over her sister’s death, she begins a journey into her family’s past, which leads her to discover that she isn’t who she thinks she was.

The Ox-Bow Incident
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Henry Fonda, Dana Andrews, Henry Morgan (Actors)
  • William Wellman (Director) - Lamar Trotti (Writer) - Lamar Trotti (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

The World of Us Yoon Ga-Eun 2016

In the past many years, Korean film has not only grown in quality but also come to represent something important in the development of a national cinematic language. Now that we have established that there are actually some quite good Korean films out there even this year, I feel it’s time to look over the last few years and pick out some of my favorite domestic features.

This is by no means an exhaustive list; there’s no way I could see everything, so if you think I missed a great one, let me know. Also, keep in mind that this is just my personal list. It’s limited to 2015 releases that I’ve seen, and I only included films with at least a decent theatrical run (sorry, “Tajja,” but we didn’t get it here).

With all those caveats out of the way, here are my top 10 Korean films from the last few years: The World of Us is a 2016 South Korean romantic comedy film directed by Juhn Jai-hong and starring Jung Jae-young, Han Ji-min, Lee Hee-Joon, and Lee Sung-min.

The World of Us (Hangul: 나를 아는 세상; R.R.: Nareul Anneun Seesang) is a 2016 South Korean romantic comedy film directed by Juhn Jai-hong and starring Jung Jae-young, Han Ji-min, Lee Hee-joon, and Lee Sung-min. The film was released on December 7, 2016.

The World of Us
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Choi Soo-in, Lee Seo-yeon, Jang Hye-jin (Actors)
  • Yoon Ga-eun (Director) - Yoon Ga-eun (Writer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

A Bittersweet Life Kim Jee-Woon 2005

A Bittersweet Life is a 2005 South Korean crime film directed by Kim Jee-Woon. The movie is about a hitman who takes on an apprentice and becomes his mentor but then struggles to save him from the dark path he took.

I’m not wasting your time telling you a bunch of stuff you can read in the movie’s description. I’m going to give you my opinion about this movie and why I think it’s one of the most influential movies of all time. Of course, this is my opinion, so feel free to disagree with me.

From the first moment I watched this movie, I knew it was something special. It’s a mix of different genres and has some dark parts, so it can be addicting for some people since you never know what will happen next. Whenever I watch it again, I’m always surprised by how much effort was put into making perfect shots, and every single scene seemed like there was no room for improvement.

Of course, this is not some super intellectual movie, and some people might not like it because they want something profound, but if you’re just looking for pure entertainment, this movie will be OK for you.

A Bittersweet Life
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Lee Byung-hun, Kim Yeong-cheol, Shin Min-ah (Actors)
  • Kim Jee-woon (Director) - Jee-woon Kim (Writer) - Joon-hwan Choi (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

Scattered Night Sol Kim 2019

It would be best if you were a bit of an optimist to work as a night shift nurse. The hours can be long, the work can be challenging, and it’s not uncommon to find yourself alone when you’re supposed to be helping someone else. Yet the rewards can be great. You get to make a difference in people’s lives, and get paid for it.

Tender Heart Hospital is looking for caring, compassionate nurses like you to join our team. Our veteran team members are glad to share their knowledge with new staff, so you’ll always know what you’re doing. You’ll also get loads of support from management and a comfortable working environment that isn’t too big or too small.

We offer competitive wages, bonuses, and benefits so you can save a little money for your future. Call us today if you’re interested in joining our dedicated health care providers team!

It is a good idea to pay more attention to the items you purchase for yourself and your family. The more you know about the product details, the better it will be for you. This article will give you some tips on buying online safely.

The Prestige
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Michael Caine (Actors)
  • Christopher Nolan (Director) - Jonathan Nolan (Writer) - Emma Thomas (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

Oasis Lee Chang-dong 2002

Oasis is a 2002 South Korean film directed and written by Lee Chang-dong. It was entered into the 24th Moscow International Film Festival.

Tae-suk’s mother is terminally ill and constantly asks him to visit her. He promised to do so, but he kept putting it off as time passed. One day, he gets a call from an old friend who tells him his mother has died. Tae-suk does not show any emotions when hearing about his mother’s death but instead goes on with his life as if nothing has happened.

His friends are worried about him but have decided not to bring up the subject of his mother since it only seems to upset him, and they don’t want their friendship to be affected by this personal matter.

His girlfriend Song-yi still wants to know what has happened to him. So she visits his house, and while she is there, a mystery woman comes in asking for Tae-suk. Song-yi gets a glimpse of her and sees that she is pregnant.

They go outside together, where the woman tells Tae-suk that he is the father of her child and wants him to pay child support for their baby.

Oasis
  • Hailed as the seminal film of the Korean New Wave, acclaimed director Lee Chang Dong's Oasis tells...
  • Kyoung-gu Sul, So-ri Moon, Nae-sang Ahn (Actors)
  • Chang-dong Lee (Director) - Chang-dong Lee (Writer) - Gye-nam Myeong (Producer)
  • English (Subtitle)
  • English (Publication Language)

I Saw the Devil Kim Jee-Woon 2010

Jee-Woon Kim’s I Saw the Devil is a film of startling originality that it makes the familiar seem new again. It’s a remake in no way and a sequel in no way either. It is more like a companion piece to Park Chan-Wook’s Oldboy, which shares some thematic concerns and narrative devices.

The story is simple, almost disturbingly so. A secret agent named Soo-Hyun (Lee Byung-Hun) has just been assigned to kill a man named Kyung-Chul (Choi Min-Sik).

 The problem is that Soo-Hyun doesn’t know what Kyung-Chul looks like. He knows he will be working with an undercover woman who knows Kyung-Chul personally but doesn’t know his face. Soo-Hyun kills the wrong man in the film’s beginning, a crime lord named Seok Choong, who resembles Kyung-Chul.

To make up for this mistake, he demands that Suh Yun (Lee Na-Young), the undercover woman, kill Seok Choong’s wife and daughter before he goes after Kyung-Chul.

When she complI, Saw the Devil (Hangul: 나는 악인이다; R.R.: Na-neun Ak-in-i-da) is a 2010 South Korean action horror thriller film starring Choi Min-Sik, Lee Byung-hun, and Kim Ok-vin. The film was directed and co-written by Kim Jee-Woon.

Tasha Robinson of The A.V. Club gave the film a B+ grade; she praised the action sequences and said, “the ending is genuinely exciting, and the whole thing moves like a rocket…It doesn’t always make sense, but it’s never boring.”

I Know What You Did Last Summer - Season 1
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Madison Iseman, Bill Heck, Brianne Tju (Actors)
  • Craig William Macneill (Director) - Sara Goodman (Writer) - Sara Goodman (Producer)

Oki’s Movie Hong Sang-soo 2010

The Oki’s Movie Hong Sang-soo 2010 is a Korean movie from 2010.

 Oki is the character name in this movie. He is a film director, and he has made a movie with his actress girlfriend and an actor who plays the lead role in the movie. On the day of the premiere, he spends time with his two friends, also film directors.

He has an awful experience and so decides to go to a picnic with his girlfriend. On their way to the picnic, they get involved in a car accident, and then she tells him they should break up. His friend tells him that his movie is no good.

He has some drinks with them and then goes back home, where he realizes that he was drunk while driving and got involved in a car accident himself. He tries to call his ex-girlfriend but realizes that she has left her phone at home.

He then receives a call from someone telling him that she was stuck inside her car after the accident and that he needs to save her. He runs towards where she was stuck but then realizes it was all just a dream.

Oki's Movie (English Subtitled)
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Seon-gyun Lee, Yu-mi Jeong, Seong-geun Moon (Actors)
  • Sang-soo Hong (Director) - Hong Sang-soo (Writer) - Cho-hee Kim (Producer)
  • (Playback Language)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

Oldboy Park Chan-wook | 2003

The talented Korean director Park Chan-wook has a new movie coming out this December, “Oldboy,” which stars Josh Brolin and Elizabeth Olsen. The film follows a mysterious man locked up in a room for 15 years without knowing his captor or why he was imprisoned. When he is released, he sets about to get revenge on his captor.

Tribeca Film Festival sat down with the director to talk about making this complex thriller, which was adapted from a Japanese manga.

 Q: Why did you choose to make this film?

A: I first came across this work when I went to Japan. I was looking for some reading material for the plane ride home, and my translator showed me “Oldboy.” I was intrigued by it because of its original plot and characters. It is not your typical action movie; it’s very psychological. So when the opportunity arose that I could adapt it into film, I jumped at the chance to do so.

Q: You are known for directing violent films like “Joint Security Area” and “Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance.” What made you want to direct a more psychological thriller?

A: The violence in my previous films was born out of necessity in telling each story.

Oldboy
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Choi Min-sik, Yoo Ji-tae, Kang Hye-jeong (Actors)
  • Park Chan-wook (Director) - Hwang Jo-yun (Writer) - Jae-Duk Han (Producer)
  • (Playback Language)
  • Audience Rating: R (Restricted)

House of Hummingbird Bora Kim 2019

When Bora Kim was asked to share her biggest fashion trend predictions for 2019, she didn’t hesitate to reveal them. “The fashion story of 2019 will be about the feminine spirit, with a focus on elegant details that complement women’s natural beauty.”

Tastemakers like Kim, who has dressed the likes of Madonna and Rihanna, rely on their instincts when predicting the next big trend. But Kim has more than a decade’s worth of experience in the industry. She also happens to live in Los Angeles — a city with some serious style cred — which makes her an expert source for what’s hot and what’s not.

“One of the biggest trends I am seeing is ‘no trend,'” Kim told Fashionista. “Designers are taking a ‘less is more approach, creating modern and timeless looks.”

Kim believes this minimalist approach will dominate 2019. “Designers are taking inspiration from nature by using neutral colors as well as using textures and fabrics that feel good against the body,” she said. “I’m also seeing more soft shoulders and feminine silhouettes.”

To get inspired by Kim’s predictions, check out her Pinterest board featuring designers she admires most.

Sale
House of Hummingbird [Blu-ray]
  • Jihu Park, Saebyuk Kim, Seungyeon Lee (Actors)
  • Bora Kim (Director)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

The Day He Arrives Hang Sang-soo 2011

The Day He Arrives is about a woman and her lover, who once lived together but now have divorced and moved on. Their young son, who has leukemia but still wants to go on a school trip to Africa with his class, brings them back together.

The man tries to conceal his identity from his ex-wife, and the boy tries to hide his illness from them both. The film is a comedy, but it also has elements of pathos and tragedy. It is moving without getting maudlin.

It’s not easy for me to pick a favorite scene from this film because there are so many good moments, but I do like the first time the boy’s mother visits the hospital after he’s sick and the doctor realizes the boy needs a bone marrow transplant.

Bone marrow transplants are painful and dangerous procedures, even when done by professionals, but in this case, it will be done by an amateur. My favorite part of this scene is when the boy’s mother leaves the room after being told that her son will have to undergo this procedure. Then she runs into another patient in the hallway, getting ready for another medical procedure.

She knows this patient because she was married to him before she was married to the father of her kids.

The Day He Arrives
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Yu Jun-sang, Kim Sang-jung, Song Seon-mi (Actors)
  • Hong Sang-soo (Director) - Hong Sang-soo (Writer) - Hong Sang-soo (Producer)
  • (Playback Language)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

Painted Fire Im Kwon-taek 2002

The movie Painted Fire (2002) is a great movie. I don’t know much about the director, but I know that this was his last movie before he retired. It’s one of those movies that is slightly depressing but it’s captivating at the same time.

The story takes place in a village and focuses on the relationships of the people living there. I’m not going to get into a lot of detail because I don’t want to spoil it. Some scenes are very sad.

One scene, in particular, struck me as very interesting and beautiful. It involves a man and an older woman who are both deaf, starring as the couple in question. A lot of the movie is in Korean with English subtitles, which helps you understand it better if you don’t know Korean (like me).

I would recommend this movie to anyone who wants to watch something that will make them cry but won’t make them cry like “The Saddest Music in the World.” Again, sorry if this wasn’t too descriptive, but I don’t want to give away any spoilers!

Parasite Bong Joon-ho 2019

An unexpected hit in South Korea, Parasite is also a new entry in Bong’s trilogy of films about class (Snowpiercer and Okja are the other two). It’s his most accessible film to date, but it’s still a Bong film – one that may just be an instant classic.

Tough, funny, and horrifying, it’s the story of a low-income family whose lives are turned upside down when a new maid comes to work for them. And by “upside down,” I mean “inside out” because this is an inverted tale of class struggle that sees the rich lose their wealth and the poor living large.

The tone is set early on with an opening scene that quickly establishes how far you’re about to stray from everyday reality. As soon as things settle down, though, Parasite becomes more conventionally structured – but its storytelling still retains the signature Bong touch.

What it lacks in narrative complexity, it makes up for with something else – empathy. There aren’t many films you can think of that feel so urgent or so vital. It’s one of those rare classics that come along at precisely the right moment to say something crucial about where we’re at right now.

Snowpiercer
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Chris Evans, Jamie Bell, Tilda Swinton (Actors)
  • Joon-ho Bong (Director) - Kelly Masterson (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

Take Care of my Cat Jae-Eun Jeong 2001

One day a couple brought a tiny, crying kitten to the temple. They said they couldn’t keep her because they were moving and couldn’t take her with them. The little kitten was weak and needed care, so I took her in. She lived at the temple for about two weeks, but I could tell she wasn’t getting any stronger. She was so small and frail and just didn’t seem like she would make it.

Trying to find a home for her, I took her to the vet, where she was diagnosed with feline leukemia. The vet said there was no cure for this disease and that it would be best to put her down. He told me that if I wanted to give the little cat a decent burial, I should do it right away because she probably wouldn’t live more than an hour or two.

Since I couldn’t bear to see her suffer any longer, I decided it was time to let her go. As I took her in my arms one last time, something happened that would change both of our lives forever!

The little kitten reached up with her paw and touched my heart chakra (the center of love). Instantly, energy flowed from my heart into hers! Within a few minutes, the kitten’s energy

Microhabitat Jeon Go-woon 2017

Microhabitat Jeon Go-Woon 2017 is a documentary about an urban beekeeper.

Tae-soo, an artist who lives in the city, is collecting honey from a beehive on his balcony and making honey wine. One day, he meets a man named Hyo-Seok, who runs a small restaurant in the city. Hyo-Seok loves honey and orders it by the jar. Tae-soo tells Hyo-Seok that he can get him some really delicious honey, which brings them together.

I chose this movie because it touches on the theme of ‘urban farming.’ It is one of the most critical themes in Korea’s agricultural industry today. The micro-farm plots are becoming more popular as people’s desire for fresh food increases. In my country, many farmers want to do so but cannot find public farms or open spaces to do so.

There are many challenges to urban farming, such as space limitations and policies that are not appropriate for agriculture in cities. However, these challenges have also become opportunities for people to come up with ways to overcome them. If we continue to overcome challenges and think about new solutions, we can use space efficiently and produce high-quality food. 

Microhabitat
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Esom, Ahn Jae-hong, Choi Deok-moon (Actors)
  • Jeon Go-woon (Director) - Jeon Go-woon (Writer) - Kim Soon-Mo (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

Mother Bong Joon-ho 2009

Monster** is a horror film by South Korean director Bong Joon-Ho. The movie’s events occur in France and Korea, and in both places there are people who can turn into monsters named “Ones.”

The film’s main character is a little boy whose mother is a monster. He lives with his father – an ordinary, inconsiderate man who treats his son as if he were his property. The young boy has no friends because no one understands him, and he wants to be friends with a strange boy.

He spends most of the day at home. Once, he meets an old lady in a wheelchair on the street, who also turns out to be a monster. They become friends, and she becomes increasingly interested in himIn 2009, a list was published on the internet of the one hundred movies you can see in your lifetime.

The list was broken down into ten categories ranging from documentary to western. One of the categories was science-fiction, and the film Mother was in it.

The film is about a young boy who discovers his mother is an alien and goes on an adventure to get her back before she becomes part of a government experiment. It’s a really strange movie, and I say that in the best way possible.

The film is directed by Bong Joon-ho, who has made other great science fiction movies like Memories of Murder and Snow Piercer. If you haven’t seen any of his movies, you should check them out too!

Mother
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Kim Hye-ja (Actor)
  • Bong Joon-Ho (Director) - Bong Joon-ho (Writer) - Park Tae-Joon (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring Kim Ki-Duk 2004

Simply put, this is a movie about life and death, but not in the typical sense. It’s more about the cycle of life and how we must all die someday. The movie does what every great film does: it makes us think about our own lives as well as the lives of others.

Tae-sang is a quiet man who lives in a small village with his wife and son. He seems to be content to live his life in peace, just like everyone else around him. But that changes when Tae-sang witnesses the self-inflicted death of a monk from the local monastery.

This event sets off a chain reaction of events that lead to more deaths and much more pain for Tae-sang, who has trouble dealing with his past.

The rest of the movie shows how Tae-sang deals with his losses, trying to find some sort of peace within himself. There are many flashbacks to Tae-sang’s time in prison and the time before he was jailed (we learn why he was imprisoned), which helps paint a picture of who he is now and shows us how far he has come. 

This film is breathtakingly beautiful and is full of symbolism that alludes to Buddhist teachings.

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter ... And Spring
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Yeong-su Oh, Jae-kyeong Seo, Jong-ho Kim (Actors)
  • Ki-duk Kim (Director) - Ki-duk Kim (Writer) - Lee Seung-jae (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

Moonlit Winter Dae Hyung Lim 2019

A friend of mine recently posted an old photograph from her trip to South Korea, circa 1990. The famous Nami Island is located just off the coast of Busan, and the point of interest in the photo is the sculpture in the middle of the island: a giant turtle crafted out of rocks.

Turtles are symbols of longevity and good fortune in East Asian culture, and this one is no exception. According to legend, if two people climb onto its back simultaneously and wish for their love to last forever, they can never be apart.

But there’s a catch: you must make this wish on a new moon night — a night when the moon is just a thin crescent — or it won’t work.

This would be a tall order for most people since there are only five new moons yearly. But I’ve decided to have my romantic partner climb up on that turtle’s back every one of those five nights, no matter what!

You might wonder why I’m going through all this trouble to keep my relationship alive. It’s true that, on paper, I don’t really need to do anything special since we’ve been together for over 20 years.

Moonlit Winter
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Kim Hee-ae, Nakamura Yuko, Kim So-hye (Actors)
  • Lim Dae-hyung (Director) - Dae Hyung Lim (Writer) - Ko Kyung-Ran (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

The Handmaiden Park Chan-Wook 2016

Now, I’m not going to go as far as saying that no one should ever see this movie. But if you’re a person who doesn’t like being taken in by con artistry and cheap manipulation, then best to know what you’re getting into and at least have the option not to see it if the warning signs are too much for you. Version 2 of this review is spoiler-free, so read on if you want to know more about the movie without being spoiled.

Tl;dr: If you want to watch a movie that’s stylish and well-acted but also manipulative and insulting, you’ll probably enjoy The Handmaiden. It’s at its best when it’s just weird for weirdness’ sake. If you want to spend two hours feeling cheated and manipulated, then go for it.

Two things about this movie worried me before I saw it. One was the fact that the director is known for his films’ graphic depictions of violence, which isn’t something I’m into in the first place and is not something I look for in a romantic film (which I’d been told would be). The other was that the story is based on a novel by a Japanese author.

The Handmaiden
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • KIM MIN-hee, HA JUNG-woo, CHO JIN-woong (Actors)
  • PARK CHAN-wook (Director) - Screenplay By CHUNG SEO-Kyung PARK CHAN-Wook (Writer) - Park Chan-wook...
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

Burning Lee Chang-Dong 2018

Movie review part 1:

Burning is a movie that revolves around the love triangle between Jongsu (Yoo Ah-in), an introverted boy who lives with his adoptive father, and Haemi (Jang-mi Han), the girl he loves. Haemi ends up leaving for Africa on a volunteer trip after she graduates from high school, but she returns to Korea two years later.

Jongsu learns that Haemi is now dating Ben (Steven Yeun), an upscale architect. The year is 1996, and the country is preparing for the Olympics in Seoul. Burning takes place during this period and captures the contrast between the poor and rich of South Korea.

Burning begins by showing us how Jongsu gets involved in a mystery surrounding Ben. When we first meet him, he’s sleeping on the beach of a lake one night when he’s approached by Ben asking him if he can help him find a woman named Haeom.

He then strangely disappears before returning to give Jongsu $100. After thinking about it for a while, Jongsu contacts Haeom, who later reveals herself to be Haemi living in Africa at the time. She reveals that she never went back to America as planned.

Burning
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Yoo Ah-In, Steven Yeun, Jeon Jong-seo (Actors)
  • Lee Chang-dong (Director) - Lee Chang-dong (Writer) - Lee Chang-dong (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

Treeless Mountain So Yong Kim 2008

Korean director So Yong Kim’s English-language debut is a spare, beautiful drama about motherhood, friendship, and the passing of time.

The story centers on two women living in Seoul who have drifted apart after a shared experience in their youth. Jin (Min-Sik Choi) works as a nurse for terminally ill patients; her best friend, Young (Hae-Ju Kang), has become an overworked corporate executive.

When Young’s daughter accidentally sends her ex-boyfriend Yoon (Ki-Woong Jo) an email meant for her mother, the women reunite — and soon, Young is offering to pay Yoon to date Jin after he gets out of prison, where he’s doing time for beating his ex-girlfriend.

Kim never explains why Yoon is in jail or what happened between him and his ex — she prefers to let viewers fill in the blanks themselves. By keeping the film quiet and unrushed, Kim makes it possible to focus on the main characters as they reconnect with their emotions.

And by filming both women in tight close-up at all times, Kim emphasizes their similarities — they share a cold, corporate, and impersonal world. But while both women are admirable in their way.

Treeless Mountain
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Hee-Yeon Kim, Mi-Hyang Kim, Song-Hee Kim (Actors)
  • So Yong Kim (Director) - So Yong Kim (Writer) - Bradley Rust Gray (Producer)
  • (Playback Language)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

Secret Sunshine Lee Chang-Dong 2007

Secret Sunshine by Lee Chang-dong is one of my favorite films of all time. The story is about a woman whose husband was killed in the Korean War and how she copes with her husband’s death. Her husband’s spirit haunts her and follows her around everywhere she goes.

Secret Sunshine is a very depressing film, but it has a couple of scenes that are so beautiful that they bring tears to my eyes every time I watch this film. Here are a few scenes from Secret Sunshine that I love:

The first scene I love from Secret Sunshine is when the main character, Hee-sun (played by Jeon Do-Yeon), is taking a walk in the park with her husband Ki-Hyeok (played by Song Kang-ho).

While walking, they see an old man who reminds them of their father. This scene shows that Hee-sun and Ki-Hyeok have grown closer while married. They share a lot of laughs and smiles while talking about their dead father and comparing him to the older man in the park.

They even go on to share stories about when they were little kids, leading to them sharing a romantic moment.

Secret Sunshine (English Subtitled)
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Do-yeon Jeon, Kang-ho Song (Actors)
  • Lee Chang-Dong (Director) - Lee Chang-Dong (Writer) - Hanna Lee (Producer)
  • (Playback Language)
  • Audience Rating: PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)

The King and the Clown Lee Joon-Ik 2005

Meeting the film’s two main characters, Kim and Shin, are one of the film’s great pleasures. They are played by Lee Joon-Ik and Ha Jung-Woo, respectively, who are entirely magnetic in this movie. Kim is a vagrant clown with a tragic backstory who has been forced to work as the court jester to pay off his debts to the local merchant. 

Shin is a young nobleman who wants nothing more than to be recognized as a true king.

The two characters meet when Kim gets into trouble for accidentally insulting the king. Upon seeing how beautiful his queen is, he blurts out that she looks like she was “born from an egg laid by a chicken.” The king decides to make an example of him by charging him with lese-majesty and sentencing him to death.

However, the king changes his heart after meeting Kim and instead asks him to help train his queen for her upcoming performance at the royal festival. From there on, Kim becomes Shin’s unofficial advisor and starts teaching him all about life through theater and dance. Their bond grows stronger until it reaches its apex at the royal festival when they must perform together.

King and the Clown
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Lee Joon Ik (Director) - Seok-Hwan Choi (Writer) - Joon-ik Lee (Producer)
  • Audience Rating: PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)

The Wailing Na Hong-jin 2016

The Wailing (2016) is a Korean movie that was not released in the United States. However, it made its way to the United States, receiving high praise from critics.

Tong-ho is a policeman in charge of crimes related to ghosts and other supernatural events. He is demoted and must return to his hometown. While there, he deals with some village people who will not leave him alone.

As he goes about his new job, Tong-ho begins to see mysterious happenings and strange apparitions, which lead him on a journey of self-discovery and an investigation into the spirit world. The Wailing was directed by Na Hong-jin, who also wrote the screenplay for the film. The movie stars Ryu Seung-ryong, Jun Kunimura, and Do Kyungsoo.

Film critic Kevin Maher said, “A surfeit of ideas and a crowded narrative can make for a frenetic film, but when done right, such filmmaking can have real power.” Maher also said, “The Wailing is one of those films where everything clicks – great performances, great atmosphere, great sound design, and editing.” James Mudge agreed with this statement: “It’s an intense experience that doesn’t let up.”

The Wailing
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Kwak Do-won, Hwang Jung-min, Jun Kunimura (Actors)
  • Na Hong-jin (Director) - Na Hong-jin (Writer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

Peppermint Candy Lee Chang-dong 2000

Based on a novel by Lee Chang-dong, Peppermint Candy is a sad film about two people who love each other the wrong way. The film shows how their relationship grows from its beginnings to its tragic end.

The first time they meet is at a taxi stand. Hyeon-Su picks up a woman and takes her home, only to find out that she doesn’t live there. He lets her inside and offers her food, but she says she’s not hungry.

She then asks him if he wants to have sex with her. While we don’t see them do it, you know they must have done it because of the subsequent scene: Hyeon-su is buried in snow while the woman is looking down at him from his apartment window. Despite being strangers to each other, he takes her in and gives her food and shelter for the night. The next morning, he sees her off with a smile. She doesn’t smile back; instead, she leaves him with an eerie comment: “A man with no past makes for a good husband.”

Throughout the film, we see how these words are valid for both of them. Hyeon-Su has no past or family of his own, so he can be whatever he wants.

Peppermint Candy
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Sol Kyung-gu, Moon So-ri, Kim Yeo-jin (Actors)
  • Lee Chang-dong (Director) - Lee Chang-dong (Writer) - Keiko Iino (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

Memories of Murder Bong Joon-ho 2003

I was so excited to see this movie because I heard it was a great thriller. I was right. Memories of Murder is one of the best thrillers I have ever seen. It is about the first serial killer case in South Korea, which occurred in 1986.

A young police detective and his partner try to solve these brutal murders where the victims’ bodies are found with their stomachs cut open and all their intestines pulled out. The detectives suspect more than one killer and are anxious to catch them before they kill again.

The movie will creep you out as you learn how these killers choose their victims and why they commit these gruesome acts. I highly recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys suspenseful thrillers in which the bad guys are bad.

There is no romance or comedy relief to lighten the mood, so this is not a movie you want to watch if you are in the mood for light-hearted entertainment.

Tone:  enthusiastic. The movie follows two detectives trying to solve a series of murders over twenty years. Based on a true story, it looks at not just the crime but also the social issues accompanying it.

It is one of the movies that made Bong Joon-ho’s career and is definitely worth watching for fans who want to see more of what he can do.

Memories of Murder
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Kang-ho Song, Hee-Bong Byun, Roe-ha Kim (Actors)
  • Joon Ho Bong (Director) - Joon Ho Bong (Writer) - Seoung-Jae Cha (Producer)
  • (Playback Language)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

Poetry Lee Chang-dong 2010

Poetry is a 2010 South Korean film written and directed by Lee Chang-dong. The film stars Sol Kyung-gu, Yoo Ah-in, and Kim Jeong-Seol as members of a family caught in the cruel cycle of Korea’s hierarchical society.

It garnered critical acclaim upon its release and won numerous awards, including the Jury Prize at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival. Despite being something of an art house film, Poetry was a box office hit in South Korea.

Tae-Ju is an unemployed poet whose wife has left him to raise their son alone in their rural home. Tae-Ju spends his days writing poetry, but his only companion is his young son, Dong-ho.

One day Dong-ho brings home a girl named Soo-mi as his new classmate. Seemingly unaware of his father’s neglect, Dong-ho asks Tae-Ju if he can invite Soo-mi for dinner, so she doesn’t feel lonely.

Tae-Ju reluctantly agrees, and Soo-mi comes to dinner with her parents and younger sister. During that night, Tae-Ju becomes infatuated with Soo-mi’s mother, Sun-Hwa–a former beauty queen–and approaches her during a1. 

The poetry of Lee Chang-dong’s films is in the slow, patient, and the nonjudgmental way he observes his characters.”

Poetry
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Yun Jeong-hie, Lee Da-wit, Ahn Nae-sang (Actors)
  • Lee Chang-dong (Director) - Lee Chang-dong (Writer) - Jun-Dong Lee (Producer)
  • (Playback Language)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)