4 Past Korean Movies Worthy of Best Picture
Updated: Sep 21
If you’re just now jumping on the bandwagon of Korean cinema because of Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite sweeping wins at the Oscars this year, then I have some more hidden gems for you. South Korea has a long and extensive history of great cinematography, however, most are overlooked because foreigners hate reading captions. Due to Parasite's historic win where a subtitled film won Best Picture, Korea’s best movies now have a chance to shine just as much as Parasite has.
We all know what K-Pop is by now - it’s everywhere! The catchy music, the popular dances and the captivating fashion of K-Pop idols have mesmerized millions worldwide. Now, Korean movies can do the same. After watching these movies, including Parasite, I was left to reflect on my own behaviors and how they contribute to the society we live in. The movies listed below are some of the best I’ve watched to-date and they deserve every ounce of attention that Parasite is getting.
Disclaimer: It’s extremely hard to describe how amazing these films are without spoiling them, but I will try my best to describe them and how they have contributed to my character development. Of course, there are a handful of movies that I haven’t had the chance to watch, so if something you love is missing, let a girl know!
Where do I even start with this movie? This 2005 film directed by Park Chan-wook is definitely not for the weak-minded. The plot is fairly simple - a man is kidnapped and imprisoned for a chunk of his life until one random day he is released. Having spent so much time imprisoned, he vows to find out who did this to him and why. This movie truly taught me that ignorance is bliss. The less you know, the better and happier you’ll be. The plot twist in this one movie alone has me shook to the core almost 10 years later. Watch it.
2. The Host
Another of Bong Joon-ho’s masterpieces, The Host will make you laugh, cry, rage and most importantly scared as sh*t. This classic monster movie has so many social and cultural issues starting from the very first scene. It begins with an American scientist convincing his Korean colleague to dump toxic chemicals into a river. These chemicals mutate the fish in the river and create a giant monster who ends up, you know, killing people. The story follows a dysfunctional family trying to hunt down the monster who they believe has their youngest child hidden in a sewer. The Host is more than a monster movie with thrills and jump scares - that's just a façade for the true purpose of the film, which you will have to watch to find out the rest!
Yep, another film by Bong Joon-ho. This one keeps me up at night, wondering how far we would all go to protect our loved ones, and it really tugs at my heart in the most brutal way. Mother follows the story of a mentally impaired teenage boy who is accused of murdering a girl in the same town. Believing her son is innocent, the unnamed mother exhausts her options to prove her son's innocence. However, the story gets darker and by the end, we are all left praying that this type of thing never happens to anyone, not even our worst enemies.
Okay, enough of the dark stories. This movie is hands-down my favorite to cheer me up on the nastiest of days. Sunny is a story about friendship and how girlfriends can literally radiate sunshine in your life. A woman reunites with her high school bestie who is, unfortunately, dying from cancer. Her friend's dying wish is to assemble the squad after years of no contact. You can already feel the emotions just from those two sentences! This coming-of-age memoir follows seven girls, each with their own unique 80's fashion and vibrant personalities, going through their own struggles. At the end of the day, they come together stronger than ever for each other. How can you not love it already?
One of the many things that each of these movies has in common is that you never know who you’re rooting for. Within each character, you can relate and humanize their behaviors and you end up thinking that if you were in their shoes, you might even do the same. It’s a hard truth to grasp that every human cannot be solely good or solely bad. We are all capable of both spectrums, we all contain multitudes. Deep, I know.
If you end up watching any of these films, let us know what you think on Insta at @thisisuproar. And like I said earlier, if something you love is missing, let a girl know!