The 30 Best South Korean Movies of the 21st Century - Deepstash
To begin with.

South Korean cinema is best known for their on-screen, no-holds-barred, grotesque violence that would find space in the list of the most unsettling movies.

The biggest name in Ko...

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The 30 Best South Korean Movies of the 21st Century

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Poetry | Lee Chang-dong | 2010

Lee Chang-dong is undoubtedly one of the best contemporary screenwriters and directors working today.

Even with the thinnest plot that can be reduced to one sentence, the complex...

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Memories of Murder | Bong Joon-ho | 2003

Richly detailed and nerve-racking, “Memories of Murder” is a masterful work in character study and in creating the disquieting tension throughout the film.

The muted color cinema...

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Peppermint Candy | Lee Chang-dong | 2000

Lee Chang-dong’s ‘Peppermint Candy’ is an unflinching and unhurried examination of a man in the backdrop of the ever-changing and volatile sociopolitical environment in Korea.

Th...

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The Wailing | Na Hong-jin | 2016

Na Hong-jin seamlessly blends multiple genres with ease, constructing a psychological horror involving satanic cult and ancient folk tale.

“The Wailing” is like a giant monster who is is not...

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The King and the Clown | Lee Joon-Ik |2005

The King and the Clown is a historical tragic-comedy. It’s a subtle and nuanced exploration of sexuality, love, jealousy, and madness neatly decorated in the backdrop of 15th-century Korean socio-c...

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Secret Sunshine | Lee Chang-dong | 2007

Secret Sunshine is an unflinching, lyrical drama that gets emotionally taxing as we get to know more about meek and genial Shin-ae (Jeon Do-Yeon).

Lee Chang-dong’s dense narrative is brimming...

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Treeless Mountain | So Yong Kim | 2008

“Treeless Mountain” is a piercing, minimalist movie that smartly avoids sentimentalism for finding the naturalism in its narrative and characters.

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Burning | Lee Chang-dong | 2018

“Burning” is a stunning, opaque, ambiguous riddle-story, filled with uncertain turns of events. It’s a well-crafted film, with muted cinematography, and absolute control of its writing, as displaye...

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The Handmaiden | Park Chan-Wook | 2016

“The Handmaiden” swarms with multiple things at once: an alluring romantic period piece, a psychological sensual drama, an extended commentary on Japan’s occupation of Korea in the 1930s, a con sto...

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Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring | Kim Ki-Duk | 2004

It’s fairly difficult to write about a film that is intuitive, visceral, and expansive in its sprawling narrative.

How do you write about something which mimics life so intimately and explore...

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Mother | Bong Joon-ho | 2009

A mother is always considered as a symbol of unconditional love who could sacrifice everything for her child without giving a thought.

Bong Joon-ho’s ‘Mother’ tries to navigate through the e...

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Take Care of my Cat | Jae-Eun Jeong | 2001

Writer-director Jae-eun Jeong ‘Take care of my Cat’ is a multifaceted, layered drama. It takes a subtle look at class division & economic disparity that strain the childhood friendship of five ...

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Painted Fire | Im Kwon-taek | 2002

The sprawling, layered narrative and picturesque visuals of ‘Painted Fire’ takes inspiration from the life and work of a 19th-century Korean painter ‘Jang Seung-eop’.

He captivates art conno...

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The Day He Arrives | Hang Sang-soo | 2011

It is no news that Hang Sang-soo blends personal experience in a fictional story to structure an intimate meta-narrative. “The Day He Arrives” could be his most heartfelt, existential slacker comed...

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The Way Home | Jeong-Hyang Lee | 2002

The plot of ‘The Way Home’ is familiar and bound to have sentimental elements.

A gentle, muted grandmother (Eul-Boon Kim), who is ignorant of modern technologies including electricity, drain...

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House of Hummingbird | Bora Kim | 2019

Inarguably, the best Korean movie of 2019. In her feature debut, Bora Kim paints an intimate and sensitive story of a lonely and whimsical eighth-grader Eunhee (Ji-hu Park ) during...

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Oldboy | Park Chan-wook | 2003

Oldboy brought attention to the Korean thrillers of the International audience and is considered as one of the best pioneering movies in the genre. The second chapter in Park Chan-wook’s ‘The Venge...

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Oki’s Movie | Hong Sang-soo | 2010

Hong Sang-soo put a frustratingly unstructured but exhilarating narrative spin to the love triangle. It is a self-referential metadrama, adorned with sly wit and awkward droll. Ambiguities, ironies...

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I saw the Devil | Kim Jee-Woon | 2010

If Oldboy’s violence made your stomach curl, Kim Jee-Woon’s ‘I Saw The Devil’ would make you squirm in your seat. It borders the torture porn but never feels like one as the film utilizes bloody vi...

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Oasis | Lee Chang-dong | 2002

It is serendipity that two of my most loved, transgressive romantic films of the century released in the same year: Punch Drunk Love (Paul Thomas Anderson) and Oasis.

The lead characters in t...

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Scattered Night | Sol Kim and Jihyoung Lee | 2019

KIM Sol and LEE Jihyoung directorial Korean film ‘Scattered Night’ grounds the plot in this unfortunate event, while giving an intimate and internal perspective from the children’s point of view, e...

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A Bittersweet Life | Kim Jee-Woon | 2005

“A Bittersweet Life” is often acknowledged for two things: its razor-sharp action scenes, stitched together, one after another; and the taut narrative that doesn’t let you catch your breath until t...

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The World of Us | Yoon Ga-Eun | 2016

Yoon Ga-Eun examines the intrinsic and extrinsic pressures that children in modern Korea face, without any melodrama or manipulation of the events.

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The Bow | Kim Ki-Duk | 2005

Kim Ki-Duk’s ‘The Bow’ is an elusive and ambiguous character study of a 16-year-old girl who has spent a decade on the boat, and an old man with a multipurpose bow who plans to marry her when she t...

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The Dark Figure of Crime | Kim Tae-Kyun, Kim Tae-Gyun | 201

‘Dark Figure of Crime’ is a gritty, visceral crime-drama that works both as a fine character study, exploring the inimical side of human nature, and a drama about hope in a bleak a...

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New World | Park Hoon-jung | 2013

Park Hoon-jung’s stylish gangster drama ‘New World’ is an observational character study of the Korean Crime syndicate’s inner functioning, which starts falling apart after the death of the Chairman...

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Il Mare |     Lee Hyun-Seung | 2000

Lee Hyun-Seung delicately blends the old school romance with a powerful yet minimalistic visual style. He paints every frame with stunning, idyllic soft-focus shots, without indulging in heavy-hand...

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Hope | Lee Joon-Ik | 2013

Based on the infamously tragic Nayoung Case, that shook the country in 2008, “Hope” is a devastating film about an idyllic family.

The film is far off from the true event. So-won’s journey i...

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The Host | Bong Joon-ho | 2006

Bong Joon-ho’s monster drama ‘The Host’ is less of a horror film about a slimy tentacle monster unleashing terror across the Han River shoreline, and more of a subtle, but scathing, criticism on ma...

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Thirst | Park Chan-Wook | 2009

Park Chan-Wook brings a new twist to a generic staple of our usual high cheekbones Vampires that appear in Pop Culture; vampires who siphon off blood, and have elongated teeth to hook on the caroti...

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Pietà | Kim Ki-Duk | 2012

Can you escape the horrors of your past? Whether you are a really bad person or a victim of circumstances, is there still hope for you? Ki-Duk Kim is someone who gives small but significant messag...

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