Korean Movies

I have listened to the Treatment quite a bit and a lot of directors interviewed there talk about some of the most innovative and well made movies are coming out of Korea now.

Has anyone seen some of these? can you make recommendations for rentals?



Prediction: a half dozen people will say ‘Oldboy’. But I think that director’s earlier movie, Joint Security Area, is much better. And unlike Oldboy, the missus will probably even like it!


I would like to second JSA, it is a great film that gives a good perspective on the complicated situation created by the involvement of various countries in the Korean problem.

I’d say, overall, his earlier film Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance is a much more powerful and moving film. But Oldboy has the greatest fight scene ever filmed, in my opinion. Whatever you do, absolutely miss Sympathy for Mrs. Vengeance, which is definitively blah.

Nowhere to Hide is a great cops vs criminals tale, and is very well directed. If you like sweeping fantasy epics track down Musa (The Warrior). I am also a huge fan of A Bittersweet Life for great action sequences and cool direction. Finally you should probably check out Save the Green Planet. It is pretty good/strange.

I keep meaning to see JSA and Oldboy, but never seem to get around to it.

Bah… just remembered the site I use to find new Korean films. This should help you in any search.


Memories of Murder may well be the best serial killer film ever made. Truly, a sublime piece of film-making.

“My Wife Is a Gangster” was good comedy.

I will fulfill tom’s prophecy and say that Oldboy was my favorite movie from last year, by a mile.

I am also going to say Oldboy, and it’s a serious recommendation, because it’s just that good.

I actually thought Sympathy for Lady Vengeance was quite good.

I also really liked 3-Iron and Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring. In fact, I’d say 3-Iron is probably one of the best movies I’ve seen in the last few years.

I’m going to third Tom’s opinion and add that JSA was a well rounded, emotionally and politically moving story about friendship. It is hands down my favourite of the director’s oeuvre.

Oldboy would be the best of his revenge trilogy. Sympathy for Mr Vengeace was good and Sympathy for Mrs Vengeance not so good.

Other good Korean movies would be Taeguki, for the Korean version of Saving Private Ryan. It’s a little long and tends towards Korean sentimentality, but if you can get over that, it’s a good war story.

If you have no problems with Korean sentimentality. I suggest “My Sassy Girl” to watch with the missus.

The more arthouse movies HFL99 has listed, are a nice place to start to see what they are talking about when they say innovation. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring remains one of the most beautiful movies I have seen.

Volcano High was pretty great.

I would recommend Silmido and Attack the Gas Station if noone else has already.


Isnt Infernal Affairs Korean? I’ve heard that trilogy is decent.

Infernal Affairs (the series) are HK films.


It’s Hong Kong, and Scorcese is doing a remake with Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio.

I seriously don’t understand the love for JSA. Watched it, shrugged afterwards.

Also, SK action movies are insane with the incompetent marksmanship of the South Korean police/military. In Shiri, there were gunfights against 1 or 2 North Korean agents against a battalion of “elite” South Korean SWAT members… guess who won. This trait can also be seen in 2009 Lost Memories.

Great! Thanks for all the suggestions. I’m excited to see some of these.

I forgot to mention that I can’t get many of them because I’m living in Eastern Europe. I tried looking at movielink.com to try to download something. Does anyone know how to get versions of these? Only two of them are at my video store (I guess I could ask the video store to get them!)


I don’t know if it’s widely available but I recommend Peppermint Candy. It’s sort of a cross between Forrest Gump and Memento, though definitely more the later in style. You backtrack thru the main character’s life as he experiences key moments in South Korea’s history(economic depression, political protest, etc). The lead actor does an amazing job of showing age and crumbling emotional state of his character.

It’s pretty depressing, and the first 10 minutes really take a different tone on a second viewing.

My first experience with Korean cinema was My Sassy Girl, a romantic comedy that still ranks as one of my favorites in that genre.