10 Good Korean Movies

Tuesday, November 30 by Dan MacIntosh

It takes some looking to find 10 good Korean movies because Americans don't get much of a chance to sample Korean cinema. This ten-movie sampling provides a good overview of what's so compelling about Korean films.

  1. "Oldboy" Talk about a tight turn-around. In this film, a man is kidnapped and imprisoned for fifteen long years. And when he's freed, he only has five short days to find his kidnappers. The suspense will kill you; it almost killed him. 
  2. "Chunhyang" This Sang-Ok Shin-directed film concerns the daughter of a Kisaeng in Namwon, who falls for a noble's son. It's a troubled romance from the start. There's just something always compelling about economic differences in romance and this film is no exception.
  3. "Memories of Murder" There's a brutal murder of a beautiful woman, but two bad detectives, Park Doo-Man and Cho Young-Koo are put on the case. It doesn't look good for the woman's family, but these two do their best. It also works as a sort of buddy film.
  4. "He was Cool" This film answer the question of what would happen when fighting teenage boy hooks up with a sassy young lady. The story may not be new, but the characters are great. Sassy ladies in Korea are usually only seen in film.
  5. "My Sassy Girl" Although this film dates back to 2001, the story is based on a man named Ho-Sik Kim's internet diaries. In them, he talks openly about the relationship with his girlfriend. And to think, Americans are still remaking TV sitcoms into films! Don't be surprised if Facebook inspires a slew of new films.
  6. "The Good, The Bad, The Weird" Korea can do outlaw movies, too. This film follows three Korean outlaws in Manchuria during the '40s. In the film, they try to follow a treasure map, all the while being trailed by the Japanese army and Chinese bandits. Outlaws are outlaws, no matter where they're from. This film proves that fact.
  7. "Tale of Two Sisters" Family life can be hell sometimes. This film looks into the adverse affect of the deaths in one family. When there is an unexpected death in the family, unexpected things happen. Expect the unexpected from this movie.
  8. "The City of Violence" You like "The Godfather"? Do you want to see a Korean gangster movie? If so, check into this film about a detective that fights organized crime. Just as outlaws are outlaws, everywhere, so too is organized crime.
  9. "Friend" The '70s were great years for American filmmakers. Times were not so good in Korea, however, as this film displays. Maybe the '70s were great for you. Not everybody had it so good. 
  10. "Sympathy for Lady Vengeance" How do you start over and try to make a new life after spending almost fourteen years in prison for kidnapping and murdering a boy? That's the big issue this film addresses. It's a movie-only kind of situation. If that happened to someone you know, write your own movie.
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