Why I Love Korean Cinema

It’s the Korean Film Blogathon by newkoreancinema.com! For a week we shall talk about Korean cinema, all about the movies, the actors and the directors. It’s a week of Korean extravaganza and who better than me to talk about it? *laughs*.

Well, jokes aside, there is something about Korean cinema that really intrigues me and here is my chance to talk about it! I’m a rookie when it comes to it. I was introduced to it at the 2009 Stockholm Film Festival with the movie Mother (2009) by Joon-Ho Bong. To say that I was taken through a ride with the film is an understatement. It was an experience, all right.

Before seeing Mother I had just experienced Korean music and drama. I had, therefore, seen how censured those two can be, so I wasn’t expecting much. Then I saw Thirst (2009) by Chan-Wook Park and I had to throw all my prejudices about Korean cinema out the movie theatre. After seeing those two movies, I really started to pay attention.

When the festival was over, I started to watch all I could get my hands on, as long as it was Korean. Soon after the festival, I saw The King and the Clown (2005) by Jun-Ik Lee and A Frozen Flower (2008) by Ha Yu. Those movies are intense. It made me realize that Korean cinema is something to be admired. Of course, I watched some light movies as well: My Sassy Girl (2001) by Jae-Young Kwak, Jenny, Juno by Ho-Jun Kim (2005, with cutie-pie Hye-sung Kim), and Baby & Me (2008) by Jin-Young Kim (with personal favorite Seuk Geun Jang).

Oh! One I can’t fail to mention is The Good, the Bad, the Weird (2008) by Min-Suk Kim. I have seen that movie at least ten times by now. However, those are just a small amount of all the Korean movies I have seen during these three years. The list is so much longer! Those movies made me thirst for Korean cinema in a way that is quite unhealthy today. I tend to stay up way too late watching them on my laptop.

It was no surprise that during the 2010 Stockholm Film Festival, I was on the look out for more of it. I was lucky this year because they showed five of them, a line-up I wasn’t able to see in its entirety. I only got the chance to see I Saw The Devil (2010) by JiWoon Kim, and I kind of wished I didn’t. Not that the movie is bad, it’s just that some of the scenes are still in my mind. A good thriller, yet a very graphic one.

My plan for this week’s Korean Film Blogathon was to watch the movies I missed at last year’s Stockholm Film Festival. All in all, four movies that I wanted to watch and review, which I had issues finding a copy with subtitles of. So if anyone knows where I can get my hands on Mother is a Whore (2010) by Sang-Woo Lee, All About My Father (2010) by SangWoo Lee/Hun Kim and Kyung Hee Hwang and Bedevilled (2010) by Cheol-Soo Jang (which looks to be a very dark movie) I’d appreciate it.

Hahaha (2010) by Sang-soo Hong was already reviewed by Amy, so it only needs watching! And I might write something about my favorite Korean actors while am at it. I’m just happy to have a legit reason to spam Korean stuff all over YAM! I bet Amy isn’t as happy!


Music is all I do: I work in music, I write about music, I listen to music.

27 Responses

  1. “My Sassy Girl” was my very first exposure to anything Korean back in 2002~! Looking forward to your reviews! I hope to find time to re-watch/review “Hansel and Gretal” as well as “My Tutor Friend.”

    • julili says:

      @MissNomelette, if u review the movies u watch then u can mail NewKoreanCinema and have them add you to the blogathon!

  2. amy says:

    I can’t remember what my first Korean film was. It may have been My Sassy Girl. Around 2004 or 2005. Right around the same time I watched Il Mare, Oldboy and A Tale of Two Sisters.

    • julili says:

      @amy, I haven’t watched ATOTS but Jenna has been on my case on it so it’s now on my hard drive so I might see it this week

      • amy says:

        @julili, and you keep admitting to this. You shouldn’t really admit to having downloaded it… you know? I don’t know whether AToTS has an Scandinavian license, but there’s totally a North American release, which I own. *laughs evilly*

        • julili says:

          @amy, It’s in my harddrive cus I have the dvd in my possession but I transferred it to my comp cus I don’t like the way my dvd player in my laptop makes so much sound……

  3. My first was Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, I nearly never another Korean film again, it hated it and disturbed me. However, it remained under my skin and I now consider it to be one of the greatest films of the noughties. My second was either Peppermint Candy or the Isle, I bought those as a double dvd. Needless to say I had a skewered image of Korean films at first, but I loved them! I did move on to lighter fare soon after though.

    • amy says:

      @Pierce Conran, you went backwards xD I think people usually start with light fare, and then move on to the heavy stuff.

      Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance is a tough one to start with. I’m pretty sure my cousin is never coming around a Korean film after Oldboy (which I didn’t make her watch, fyi).

    • Julili says:

      @Pierce Conran, woa that’s a very heavy movie to start off with!
      All the vengance movies to me are so fucking good but so fucking disturbing at the same time!
      I prefer the historical movies the most! So well done and with intriguing plots!

      • amy says:

        @Julili, I asked my mom if she’d go to the movies more if there were more Asian (queue, Korean) films in the theater, and she said yes.

        I know she likes her epic historic films xD

        • julili says:

          @amy, historical Korean movies are the ish gurl!
          Have her watch King and the clown and see if she likes it

  4. MrCKDexter says:

    I’ve seen “The Good, the Bad and the Weird” get a hard knock from reviewers but I thought it was a fantastic action romp. A Western set in 1930s Manchuria full of shoot-outs and madcap escapes? How could I not love it?

    I’d also like to recommend “Memories of Murder”. It’s simply a masterful piece of cinema. At turns chilling and darkly humorous, this film asks, “What is the face of a serial killer?” Don’t miss it.

    The hype around “My Sassy Girl” is completely lost on me though. I found the film entertaining enough, but some people seem to think the film is the epitome of rom com. I just don’t get it.

    • amy says:

      @MrCKDexter, I think the deal with My Sassy Girl is that it’s basically a romantic comedy with a lot of drama, but still remains a romcom that expands through years in its story. A lot of people who usually don’t like romcoms, actually enjoyed the film a lot.

      No idea why. xD

  5. julili says:

    @MrCKDexter, I made my brother watch “the good, the bad, the weird” and he was completely in awe about the scenery.
    I love that movie so much as well, so funny.

    I shall put that film on my list! Thank you for the recommendation.

    “My sassy girl” is an alright movie, I wouldn’t call it the epitome of rom com but I would say that more rom com’s should be a little like it. Funny without trying to hard, with a good back story and good cast.

  6. Camiele White says:

    My extent of Korean film…OldBoy. But that was enough to make me love the genre. I’ll have to take a look at some of these films to see if they’re of the same type of filmmaking (like in Japanese film –the stories, characters, plots, etc. are all unique; however, there’s definitely a style that separates Japanese film from other genres).

    Thanks for the new info :)

  7. Camiele says:

    @julili, I’ll definitely take you up on that ;-)

  8. Have you seen Park Chan-Wook’s “JSA” yet? It’s brilliant. I also liked “I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK.”

    • Julili says:

      @chrryblssmninja, Funny story about “cyborg”: I went to the cinema to see it, without understanding it was Rain that had the lead. When I was at the cinema and I saw his face I was all: OMFH IT’S RAIN! hahaha

      Which JSA do u mean?

      • @Julili,
        He’s very good in that role! I can’t believe the disconnect between that performance and the one in Ninja Assassin – although it might be because Ninja Assassin’s a bad movie and not in Rain’s native language.

        Joint Security Area.

        • Julili says:

          @chrryblssmninja, he was amazing in “cyborg”. Better than Ninja for sure! Ninja was such a bad movie, omg.

          I haven’t seen that movie. Why would you recommend it?

  9. @julili
    I’d recommend Joint-Security Area because, aside from an odd English-language scene near the beginning, it’s just great cinema. It made me laugh and cry, and the performances are fantastic. The cinematography, especially in the field between the North Korean and South Korean sides, is also striking without being too flashy.

    • Julili says:

      @chrryblssmninja, I will take you up on that then! I shall see where I can find it and see it as soon as I can, thank you!

  10. Jangta says:

    “My Sassy Girl” brings back good memories. Classic Korean movie! Same with “The Good, the Bad, and the Weird”.

    I think for the last several years, Korean cinema has been been very creative, especially in the crime-thrillers and documentaries. While “Oldboy” and “My Sassy Girl” are the obvious two, popular picks Westerners know, there’s some killer films that came out this year in 2011.

    — Detective K
    — Sunny
    — Blind
    — The Crucible (“Dogani” in Korean)
    — Arrow: The Final Weapon

    … and a couple more. It’s great to see more exposure to Korean film.

    I want to ask the Yam Mag readers: why do you like Korean cinema?

    • amy says:

      @Jangta, if you search for Sunny on our site, you’ll find a couple of posts on it. Will have to check out some of the ones you mention now ;)

      Besides what the west is knowing as “korean vengeance films” or K-horror, I like the themes they deal with in their dramas or how edgy their comedies can be. I find it hard to explain, but it’s a pacing and style that is getting hard to find in Japanese cinema unless you really look for it. Or you know… they’re Tetsuya Nakashima LOL

      There’s also a lot more variety to watch, you can get a thriller just like a quiet drama, a silly romantic comedy or a chick flick and a war epic – it kinda mixes the variety you find in Hong Kong gangster films, Mainland historical epics, the quietness of Japanese dramas and the humor of the Asian industry.

  11. Stephen says:

    Wow. I know when and why this was written, but it was funny to see a post with exactly the same title that I used a few years back. And if people are still reading and interested? here’s my thoughts on this subject:


    And if you look around, there might be a whole bunch of films people might like to see :)

  1. September 24, 2014

    […] more! Yay for me, but nay for me because I have lost my love for Korean cinema. Last year I wrote why I love Korean Cinema so much. I listed all of the films I’ve watched and then went on to try and find more Korean […]

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.