With Parasite‘s historic Best Picture win at the 2020 Oscars, South Korea has now become an intractable contender in the argument for which countries are producing the best movies today. Whether Parasite is your gateway into an international film scene or you’re a seasoned viewer looking to tick off every last classic, we present 30 Certified Fresh South Korean movies to watch now!
Parasite is a great introduction to the South Korean aesthetic, as director Bong Joon-ho has been playing with tone since the early 2000s. His spectacular crime thrillers Mother and Memories of Murder and his acclaimed monster movie The Host helped establish him as one of the country’s most promising filmmakers. Parasite‘s Song Kang-ho, one of Korea’s most versatile and prolific leading men, also starred in the latter two films and serves as the connective tissue between Bong and many of his celebrated colleagues. He’s worked with Oldboy director Park Chan-wook (Thirst, Sympathy for Lady Vengeance), Kim Jee-woon (The Age of Shadows, The Good, the Bad, the Weird), and Poetry and Burning director Lee Chang-dong multiple times.
Once you’ve devoured all of those films, there’s also the quiet, subdued work of Hong Sang-soo (Hotel by the River, On the Beach at Night Alone, Right Now, Wrong Then), whose frequent leading lady Kim Min-hee also starred in Park Chan-wook’s endlessly talked-about 2016 romantic mystery The Handmaiden. And if you’re looking for genre thrills, recent hits Train to Busan and The Wailing, as well as Kim Jee-woon’s A Tale of Two Sisters and I Saw the Devil, will help scratch that horror itch.
Since the turn of the century, South Korea has been a rising force in critic-applauded and genre-friendly moviemaking, with no signs of slowing down after Parasite‘s big wins. Take a look back with 30 Certified Fresh South Korean movies to watch now!
Critics Consensus: Never flinching during its descent into depravity, I Saw the Devil is a pulverizing thriller that will give bloody satisfaction to audiences who like their revenge served with fiery rage.
Synopsis: On a dark road, taxi driver Kyung-chul (Choi Min-sik) comes across a scared female motorist stranded in a broken-down vehicle…. [More]
Critics Consensus:On the Beach at Night Alone finds writer-director Sang-soo Hong working in a more personal vein — without losing the singular sensibilities that have informed much of his acclaimed earlier work.
Synopsis: After a publicized affair with her director, an actress leaves South Korea and goes to Hamburg, where she gains insight… [More]
Critics Consensus:Train to Busan delivers a thrillingly unique — and purely entertaining — take on the zombie genre, with fully realized characters and plenty of social commentary to underscore the bursts of skillfully staged action.
Synopsis: A man (Gong Yoo), his estranged daughter and other passengers become trapped on a speeding train during a zombie outbreak… [More]
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