The South Korean film Parasite created history at the recent Oscars, becoming the first non-English movie to be named Best Picture. It beat films by prominent Hollywood directors like Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon A Time In Hollywood) and Martin Scorsese (The Irishman).
Parasite also won awards for Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best International Film. The plot of the film, directed by powerhouse director Bong Joon-Ho, highlights the class struggles facing modern day South Korea, and focuses on a family of four grifters who decide to trick their way into the home of the wealthy Park household, only to discover hidden secrets that eventually consume them all.
This film has been a tremendous hit at international festivals. However, Parasite is only the latest success from the South Korean film industry, which has produced several gems over the past two decades.
theSun takes a look at 10 other South Korean movies that have stunned critics and audiences all over the world.
1) Oldboy (2003)
Dae-su is drugged, abducted, and kept in an apartment as a prisoner. After 15 years he is given his freedom. He learns that his wife was killed and his only daughter was given away for adoption in America. He becomes obsessed with finding the man who had imprisoned him, and his motive for doing so. But the truth only rocks his world even further and intensifies his pain.
2) Memories of Murder (2003)
Parasite director Bong has created several memorable movies in the past and this film is one of them.
The story of two detectives who are at loggerheads with each other while searching for a serial killer who is responsible for a rash of brutal murders has been tackled in many other films. But Bong puts his own unique touch to the trope.
This movie has one of those powerful endings that you will find hard to forget. Korean filmmakers are good at churning out endings that you will remember.
3) A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)
Su-mi returns home after being treated at a psychiatric facility. Her father and younger sister Su-yeon are glad to have her back. But Su-mi dislikes her new stepmother. The intense hatred between her and her stepmother soon manifests into something absolutely ugly and terrifying, more than your mind can imagine.
4) Mother (2009)
The story centres on an old woman who provides acupuncture services to the people in her village. She is extremely protective of her son who suffers from mental disabilities and is prone to violent outbursts. One day, a young girl is murdered. To wrap the case, the police decide to take the easy way out and arrest her son for the murder.
The distraught mother goes all out to find the real murderer and to save her son. Her journey to find the killer will send shockwaves not only through her community, but through the audience as well.
5) The Handmaiden (2016)
Inspired by Sarah Waters’ novel Fingersmith, director Park Chan-Wook’s masterpiece brilliantly adapts the story from its Victorian England setting to the time when South Korea was under Japanese control.
A conman named Fujiwara wants to marry rich heiress Lady Hideko for her money. He hires pickpocket Soo Hee to infiltrate her home as a personal maid. Soo Hee’s job is to win Lady Hideko’s trust and convince her to marry Fujiwara.
Imagine Soo Hee’s surprise when she realises that she is in fact, the real target of the con game, and not Lady Hideko.
6) Burning ( 2018)
Based on the short story titled Barn Burning by popular writer Haruki Murakami, the story centres on young aspiring novelist Lee Jong-su who does odd jobs to make ends meet. He bumps into a former classmate named Shin Hae-mi one day, and the two eventually form a relationship.
Hae-mi tells him that she is going on a holiday, and he waits for her return anxiously – but she does not return alone. She introduces Jong-su to Ben, who happens to be rich. Jealousy and frustration arise.
The plot may sound like a typical love triangle, but trust me, it is not. This slow burn thriller will scorch your heart, your soul and your mind.
7) The Wailing ( 2016)
Village police officer Jong-Goo investigates several bizarre murders which are caused by a mysterious disease. Everyone in the village believes that a Japanese stranger who lives in a secluded house in the mountain is responsible for the strange events. They are convinced that he is dabbling in black magic.
Jong-Goo breaks into the stranger’s house and is shocked to see a shoe belonging to his daughter in the house. Is she going to be the next victim? This beautiful horror movie will keep you guessing to the end.
8) Thirst (2009)
This film offers a look into the life of a Catholic priest who turns into a vampire. Director Park gives audiences none of the usual Hollywood vampire tropes. He puts his own signature upon the horror film, playing with the themes of guilt and pleasure.
9) I Saw The Devil ( 2010)
A secret agent hunts for a serial killer who murdered his fiancée. When he finds his target, he decides that killing the murderer is too easy. He devises a plan to make the killer’s life a living hell.
10) No Regret ( 2006)
Not entirely unlike the Hollywood film Brokeback Mountain, this movie follows the unlikely romance between the wealthy Jae-min and a young bar host named Su-min.