Ever since the Korean movie `Parasite´ won four Academy Awards in 2019, including the first-ever foreign-language movie to win the `Best Film´ award, the interest in Korean culture and movies has skyrocketed internationally. Even prior to Parasite, South Korea has had a rich cinematic history. It has produced movies covering a variety of subjects, and varied storylines ranging from artistic to dreadfully violent to R rated movies, and just like the Indian film industry, or Hollywood, there is something to suit everyone’s taste. If you like gambling and are always trying to find the best online casinos in India, you will probably like the movie Tazza, a story about the life of gambling drifters, playing the Korean card game of `Hanja´. Or if you are interested in epic war movies like Troy or Braveheart, you will likely enjoy watching `The Admiral: Roaring Currents´ based on the Battle of Myeongnyang.
As we remain confined within our homes due to the pandemic, it is a good time to catch up on some of the best movies that South Korean cinema has to offer. Let’s take a look at some of the movies that you should definitely be watching in 2020.
The Train to Busan
Three years prior to the success of Parasite, Korea had delivered another international hit in `The Train to Busan´. According to some critics, it was one of the best `zombie apocalypse´ movies to have released in the past 20 years and gave a fillip to the otherwise dying genre.
The movie is mostly shot on a train traveling to Busan, a port city located approximately 300 km from Seoul. The story revolves around Seok-woo, a work-obsessed fund manager, who is taking his young daughter Su-an to see her mother, and his divorced wife, as a birthday gift for the little one. Among other people, they are accompanied by a tough working-class man Sang-Hwa, and his pregnant wife, a high school baseball team, two elderly sisters, and a homeless man.
Just as the train is about to depart, a woman with a bite wound boards the train, eventually turning into a zombie and wreaking havoc on the passengers.
Although high on violence and gore, the movie takes us on an emotional ride, showing how individuals can do anything to protect their loved ones.
Released in 1960, this black and white movie is considered to be one of the top three Korean films of all time by Koreanfilm.org. The movie was the first installment of a trilogy and was remade in 2010.
The movie is about seduction, betrayal, revenge, and death that befalls an unsuspecting family, when they welcome a maid into their household, in order to help the pregnant wife.
The maid seduces the man of the house and gets impregnated by him. The wife convinces her to induce a miscarriage by falling down the stairs, after which the maid becomes a psychotic monster. The movie progresses as she exacts her revenge on the family.
Bong Hoon-Jo, the director of Parasite has cited `The Housemaid´ as one of his inspirations for the movie.
Tazza: The High Rollers
Released in 2006, this movie received huge critical and commercial successes, going on to become one of the highest-grossing South Korean movies, and received numerous awards.
Based on the comic named Tajja, the movie revolves around the life of Go-ni, who has lost all his family’s savings after being cheated by a gang of professional gamblers in the card game of Hwatu. In order to exact revenge, he begins training under one of the best gamblers in the country, Mr. Pyeong, and sets out to win his money back.
Such was the success of the movie, that it led to the release of two more sequels in 2014 and 2019.
The Admiral: Roaring Currents
Released in 2014, the movie set the record for the fastest 10 million admissions, achieving the feat in 12 days. It also beat `Avatar´s record of ticket sales in Korea, and went on to sell 17.6 million tickets, and became the highest-grossing and most-watched movie of all time in Korea.
The movie is based on the historical Battle of Myeongnyang, and the leadership of the legendary naval commander Yi Sun-sin. The movie shows the valor of a small Korean contingent of 12 ships which takes on the mighty Japanese fleet of more than 300 ships.
Featuring elaborate navy battles, a solid star cast, and some amazing acting by the lead actors, this movie is definitely worth watching, especially if you enjoyed the movie `300´.
The King and the Clown
South Korea’s official entry for the 2006 Academy Awards, this is a period film based on an episode in the life of King Yeonsangun of Joseon and his court clown and was the most-watched movie in Korea in 2005.
Set in the 15th century, the movie deals with a deranged king who employs three performers in his court. While entertaining the king, the clowns expose the corruption which is rampant among his ministers. The story progresses as the King slowly loses his sanity, becoming homicidal, and falls for one of the clowns, and ends with a popular uprising.
A layered drama of jealousy, love, and madness, the movie received great critical and commercial success in spite of its homosexual theme.
Memories of a Murder
Based on a true story, this is a movie about South Korea’s first serial killing that took place between 1986 and 1991. Not for the faint-hearted, the movie portrays how two detectives, both with opposing approaches towards solving the crime, frustratingly try to catch the criminal.
With their untiring efforts and various common factors between the murders that they are able to unearth during the course of the investigation, will they be able to solve this gruesome crime?
Critically acclaimed as one of the best crime films of all time, this movie is co-written and directed by none other than Bong Joon-ho, the director of Parasite, and won six awards at the 2003 Korean Film Awards, including the best film.