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South Korean Movies That Have Left Global Audience Asking For More

South Korean Movies That Have Left Global Audience Asking For More

Outlook picks up ten great South Korean movies that have struck a chord with audiences worldwide with their innovative ways of storytelling

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Bollywood is yet to win over global audiences despite heralding what is known as the era of content-rich more than a decade ago. In contrast, the South Korean film industry, known as 'Hallyuwood', has delivered many a gem, including the Oscar-winning Parasite that has floored the masses and classes alike. Here is a list of top ten picks:

Poetry (2010)

Meeting with life near the end is the basic premise of this story. Mi-ja, a 66-year-old woman learns that she has Alzheimer's. Mi-ja lives with her carefree grandson. This film by Lee Chang-dong deals with the issues of family, relationships and death through a crime. Trapped in life's entanglements, Mi-ja enrolls in a course to teach poetry. The film ends with her poem which she had to write at the end of this one-month course.

The Age of Shadows (2016)

The 140-minute-long action-thriller takes you to the days of the Japanese occupation of South Korea in 1920. In the film directed by Kim Ji-woon, Korean fighters secretly import weapons from China to destroy the Japanese regime. The film, a collaboration of Korea and Japan, presents the history of the country through tremendous action.

Train to Busan (2016)

It is a zombie film and a great choice for lovers of watching such movies. A father and his daughter are on a train going to Busan where they are suddenly attacked by zombies. Most of the parts of the film have been shot on the train itself. The action, the excitement of saving lives, and the fear make it a great thriller.

The Handmaiden (2016)

The psychological-erotic thriller by renowned director Park Chan-wook is set against the backdrop of Japanese imperialism in South Korea in the 1930s. At the centre of the story is a wealthy Japanese girl who is involved in a conspiracy to seize the enormous wealth inherited by her own maid. The interesting aspect of the film is the love affair and the layers of deceit between the maid and the mistress. Chan-wook's film tells a complex story weaving through a long chain of crimes of class distinctions between the rich and the poor, the sordid world of the rich and the oppressed.

The Wailing (2016)

Directed by Na Hong-jin, the film tells the story of a village where a series of deaths begin with the arrival of an unknown person. The villagers suspect the man. This collective excitement turns into horror when the villagers start killing each other. Horror fans will find enough of ghosts, witches and supernatural powers in the film.

Okja (2017)

The film by Bong Joon-ho is a wonderful amalgamation of emotions including the environment, animals, capitalist deceit and greed. The story is about a little girl Mija whose friend is a big pig named Okja. Mija and Okja's friendship is put in jeopardy when the Mirando Corporation decides to move Okja to New York. Mija travels from Seoul City to New York to save Okja. The film shows how cruel the Mirando Corporation is to Okja. The film creates such an effect that it is impossible for the audience not to be affected.

Burning (2018)

It is difficult to ascertain from the name of the film what the story is, but for those who are familiar with Japanese author Haruki Murakami, it will be interesting to know that the film is based on one of his short stories, Barn Burning. Shin Hae-mi, a childhood friend of Lee Jong-su, who aspires to be a novelist, travels to Africa. Hae-mi returns with the mysterious character Ben who causes turmoil in Jong-su's life.

Hotel By The River (2018)

In this film directed by Hong Sang-soo, the main character Ko Young-hwan stays in a hotel for free. He feels that his death is near. He invites his two sons to the hotel for the last farewell. A girl comes to the same hotel after breaking up with her lover. The story takes several turns after Hwan’s sons and a friend of the girl arrive at the hotel.

Parasite (2019)

It is the first non-English film to win the Oscar award for Best Picture (2020). It is directed by Bong Joon-ho. The story of the film focuses on the lives of poor and rich families. Kim Ki-woo is a young man who lives in a basement with his parents and sister. Kim's mother is a track and field player and his father is an unemployed driver. His sister is a graphic artist but all four do not have a job. An opportunity comes, from where Kim deceives to find a way to change the fortunes of her family. Showcasing hypocrisy and violence, the film tackles a range of themes such as the poor-rich gap, social inequality and the predominance of human desires.

Minari (2020)

Set in the 1980s, the story of the film follows a Korean family who moves from a Korean village to a US city in search of dreams of a new life. Inspired by the life of the film's director Lee Isaac-chung, the film depicts all the troubles, challenges, and hopes of settling down in a new country. In the story, the role of a grandmother who has reached the city from a South-Korean village adds a new colour to this new experience.

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