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6 Korean Movies That May Be Even Better Than “Parasite”

The unprecedented triumph of the Korean movie “Parasite” by Bong Joon-ho took place at the 92nd Academy Awards.

The film won 4 prizes at once and two of them were the most important – for “Best Film” and “Best Director”.

However, this is not the only outstanding film in South Korea.

Moreover, it is not at all significant, especially in comparison with other films, which the viewer could not hear about and which you did not even consider as something to watch in the evening. But you should.

With this material, we will try to tell about the best Korean films.

To choose the 6 best among hundreds of insanely interesting films, to be honest, is hellishly difficult because Korean cinema is one of the most original and most prolific in the world. More famous are the Korean TV series – a real cultural phenomenon called “dorama”, multi-series melodramas.

The author of “Parasite”, Bong Joon-ho, is not the first director to be discovered in Europe and America.

Not to mention a number of directors from the 80s and 90s who produced films about oriental martial arts and Shaolin monks, the world-famous arthouses Kim Ki-duk  (with his “The Isle”) and Park Chan-wook (whose “Oldboy” Quentin Tarantino, chairman of the jury at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival, chose as the winner of the “Golden Palm Branch” and invited to the United States).

The most popular genres are historical, action, comedy, and horror. So watch and enjoy…

Just keep in mind that Korean cinema, like Asian cinema in general, is much more tolerant to on-screen violence than, say, eroticism, which is still mainly a taboo.

“The Warrior” (Musa)

2001

Sung-Ki Ahn, Jin-mo Ju, Woo-sung Jung, and Ziyi Zhang in Musa (2001)

A typical representative of Korean historical action movie with a combination of drama and melodramatics.

The story of an unnamed and silent soldier-servant of the Korean diplomatic mission unfolds in the late fourteenth century during the confrontation between the empires of China and Mongolia.

Desert, heat, lack of water and food, war, and death, with a demonstration of devotion and courage.

Here you have the beauty of nature and rivers of blood, the chaos of war with epic battles, and very crushing relationships between people, politics, and love.

The action of “Warrior” is fascinating and absolutely captivates with cinematic means – the extraordinary authenticity of clothing, weapons, and scenery.

“Memories of Murder” (Salinui chueok)

2003

Salinui chueok (2003)

According to various ratings – from individual Tarantino to major film releases – the film is among the 100, 50, and even 20 best detectives in the history of cinema.

And it deserves it. It is so “vitally” made, as if it is a documentary, but with such a subtle sense of humor and artistic taste, that the murders of women “in red dresses”, that actually took place in Korea in the ‘80s, are perceived in all its fullness of horror, hitting very close to reality.

The police investigation did not lead to anything, and the film was made about an unsolved case. But it is the lack of a solution in the finale, which is not so typical in cinema, that contributes to the drama.

In fact, Bong Joon Ho, long before his Parasite, followed the true Korean path of an author who does what he wants and how he wants.

Both the Korean audience and world experts fully approve of this approach – “Memories …” had a good rental in Korea, and was also awarded by Korean film critics and won major prizes at festivals in Tokyo, San Sebastian, and Turin.

“The Good, the Bad, the Weird” (Jo-eun nom nappeun nom isanghan nom)

2008

Woo-sung Jung, Byung-hun Lee, and Kang-ho Song in Joheunnom nabbeunnom isanghannom (2008)

The film from one of the most talented Korean directors, Kim Ji-un, is an obvious allusion to Eastwood’s “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” and in fact is a Korean version of “Indiana Jones.”

Only instead of the Wild West, Germany, or Africa, it happens in Manchuria. It is the pre-war period of the twentieth century, and it is a comedy, western, action, and adventure.

The heroes are a money-motivated traveler, a stylish bandit, and a random thief who steals a card on a train, intuitively feeling its value.

And so begins this long and exciting action game, where the governments of Japan and China, along with two gangs and random witnesses, are chasing a mysterious treasure.

“I Saw the Devil” (Ang-ma-reul bo-at-da)

2010

Min-sik Choi and Byung-hun Lee in Ang-ma-reul bo-at-da (2010)

The 2.5-hour thriller by the same Kim Jee-woon is as cruel as the myth of Sesyphus and the tragedy of Hamlet. But, again, with the originality that drives the genre.

The wife of a special services victim is killed by a serial killer. Tortured by grief, the man leaves the service to find the culprit on his own. And finds, but does not kill at once – stretches the pleasure of revenge, torturing the killer. But he makes a mistake. The killer is at large, and already knows about his persecutor, and about his relatives …

It’s not easy to watch. But the film is strong and the message is noteworthy.

“The Man from Nowhere” (Ajeossi)

2010

Won Bin and Sae-ron Kim in Ajeossi (2010)

In Korean and cinematic terms, it is an action movie.

As for the European taste, it’s paradoxically mixing mentality with brutality. However, if you accept the Korean rules, you get an original, intriguing, and rich in plot twists the concept of a fighter with perfectly inscribed in the action scary details of the gangster world and scary details. 

Revenge, the starting point for many Korean action movies, drives a former military intelligence instructor who has lost his pregnant wife. Now does not want to lose the poor girl he got attached to.

Looking for her, kidnapped by gangsters, he kills the mafia without any doubt.

Vanishing Time: A Boy Who Returned (Garyeojin sigan)

2016

Ga-lyeo-jin si-gan (2016)

The story is about a newly formed group of teenage friends. They find a stone egg with a yellow light in the middle. When it is broken, the time around them literally stopped. Birds froze in the air, people in the middle of the street

It is a poignant drama where sadness envelops the relationship of a boy and a girl, separated by circumstances and society.

Beautiful, original, and sentimental.

Insomething to watch

post tagsfilmKoreaKorean cinemaKorean moviemovieParasitesomething to watchSouth Korea