5 Korean Movies to Watch Besides ‘Parasite’

5 Korean Movies to Watch Besides ‘Parasite’
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What you need to know

There's much more to Korean cinema than 'Parasite.'

Before Parasite made history at the Oscars this year, South Korean cinema already had a massive portfolio of masterpieces. Some films caught international attention, while others sparked debates on domestic issues and even prompted the government to revise its laws.

Here are five must-watch Korean movies that you may have missed.

Kim Ji-young: Born 1982 (2019)

Kim Ji-young is a thirty-something Korean woman, passing a life of quiet desperation in her role as a housewife and mother. She married the man she loves and believes she is satisfied. However, Ji-young’s husband eventually notices that she may be experiencing postpartum depression. She by turns speaks in the voice of her mother, her best friend, and her deceased grandmother.

The film, based on a novel published in 2016, has a struck chord in Korea, prompting discussions on feminism and gender roles in the patriarchal society. It has apparently instigated of break-ups.

Memories of Murder (2003)

In October 1986, a woman was found dead and bound in the Gyeonggi Province in South Korea. Two months later, similar murders took place. Based on the first serial murders in Korea, Memories of Murder follows two detectives who try to solve the crimes. This crime thriller, directed and co-written by Bong Joon Ho, is consistently ranked as one of the best Korean films ever.

Silenced (2011)

Adapted from the novel The Crucible, Silenced is based on true events of sexual abuse in a Korean school for deaf students. Certain scenes are at times uncomfortable and even problematic, but the film sparked a public uproar that urged the government to reopen the investigation. The school was shut down and the former administrator was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Silenced left a lasting impact on Korean society as the government subsequently passed a law that removed the statute of limitations for sexual crimes targeting children under 13 and the disabled.

A Taxi Driver (2017)

Seoul cabbie Kim Man-seob is left with an enormous medical debt after the passing of his wife, a daughter to raise, and nothing but his dilapidated car to survive on.

Kim’s straightened circumstances are the background for his seizing of a lucrative opportunity to take a foreign passenger to Gwangju. Much to Kim’s chagrin, he arrives at the scene of the Gwangju Uprising, a flashpoint in South Korea’s democratization in which the government massacred thousands. The characters are first thrown together on transactional terms, making for comedy. But once tossed into a historical drama, they rise to the occasion.

More Than Blue (2009)

With the original title translated as “A Story Sadder Than Sadness,” More Than Blue is one of the classic, slow-burn Korean romantic tragedy films. Directed and written by poet Won Tae-yon, the film goes far beyond the cliched 2000s Korean romance. The plot twist, along with the actors’ evocative narration, will also leave audiences in tears long after the credits.

More Than Blue was remade into a Taiwanese version in 2018.

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TNL Editor: Daphne K. Lee, Nicholas Haggerty (@thenewslensintl)

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