3 minute read

Here’s a list of 10 Korean movies of the past several years that I enjoyed. These range from the comic to the tragic, and involve both action movies and historical dramas. Three of them are taken from events in Korea over the past 40 years or so.

My Sassy Girl - Based on a real life story that a man posted on the Internet, My Sassy Girl became all the rage in East Asia back in 2001, when it was popular in Japan, China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan. This led to a forgettable direct-to-disc American remake in 2008, starring Elisha Cuthbert (who’s unforgettable). My Sassy Girl is about a college guy who meets a drunk girl - known only as the “Girl” - on the subway, and all the odd adventures they get into while falling in love. You’ll never believe where the plot goes in this one.

Joint Security Area (JSA) - The Joint Security Area is the DMZ between North Korea and South Korea, and this movie tells the story of a double-shooting in the JSA. This results in increasing tensions on both sides of the borders, an investigation by a Swiss-Korean woman and nearly two hours of great, if implausible, entertainment.

Oldboy - Oldboy is one of the more famous Korean movies with American audiences, famous enough that it hit CNN during the Virginia school shooting a few years ago. Oldboy is about a man abducted and imprisoned in a hotel room for 15 years, and what happens when he escapes. Get រឿងកូរ៉េ for the twist, as well as seeing Oldboy go crazy with his hammer. If they ever actually get the U.S. remake of Oldboy made, it’s going to suck so bad. There’s just way too many essential parts they would have to change for American audiences. Oldboy was great, though.

Sympathy For Lady Vengeance - Like Oldboy, Sympathy For Lady Vengeance was directed by Park Chan-wook, and this is considered part of his “vengeance trilogy” (along with Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance). When a woman leaves prison, after serving a sentence for a crime she didn’t commit, it’s time to mete out revenge against the real culprits.

Arahan - Arahan is a 2004 action-comedy that was panned by critics, but found an audience. When the 6 Masters of Tao decide that an inept cop has the Chi to become an “Arahan” and rule the world, you know that all kinds of wackiness is going to ensue. You’ll either love this one or hate it.

Silmido - Silmido is a South Korean island where, in 1968, a special team of assassins were trained to assassinate former North Korean dictator, Kim Il-Sung, in retaliation for North Korea’s attempt to assassinate the South Korean president. Based on true events involving a 31-man team of either criminals or special forces soldiers, depending on who you talk to, Silmido takes a look a Korea’s sordid past. When it was finished with its run, Silmido was the first South Korean movie to be viewed by 10 million Koreans in the theater.

The President’s Last Bang - Another movie portraying events from South Korea’s sordid past, The President’s Last Bang is about the 1979 assassination of the South Korean President by his friend and Intelligence Director. This would be a controversial movie anyway, but the story is told as a black comedy, which led to lawsuits and court rulings. For those interested in Korean history and Korean film history, you have to see this one.

Drama and Movies in Khmer dubbed for Khmer people around the world.