Getting sick of K-dramas already? These iconic horror/thrillers from Korean cinematic scene will not let you sleep well tonight.
DIRECTOR: Park Chan-Wook
CAST: Choi Min-Sik, Kang Hye-Jeong, Yoo Ji-Tae
Park Chan-Wook is one of the most influential directors in Korean cinematic scene, and Oldboy remains his most morally disturbing piece of art. “Revenge is best served cold”, and sometimes it requires 15 years of confinement to learn that love does kill. The transition between scenes, the patronizing music, the slow and dark movements of the actors—everything in Oldboy is one hell of a ride. It is a classic thriller that tastes just like a buffet; a complete package that makes you demand more until you eventually throw up.
MEMORIES OF MURDER (2003)
DIRECTOR: Bong Joon-Ho
CAST: Kang Ho-Song, Kim Sang-Kyung, Park Hae-Il
Memories of Murder became a cult in Korea, and it’s actually hard to name any police procedural drama or film that has no reference to this film. Based on true serial murder case in late 1980s, the thriller provides not just the thrill, but the eeriesensation of questioned humanity. At some point, things got so intense you gotta remind yourself that the film deals with real human being, not ghosts or demons. You won’t turn your head against the screen, though, because the visual aspects of this film are just too intriguing to miss.
A TALE OF TWO SISTERS (2003)
DIRECTOR: Kim Jee-Woon
CAST: Im Soo-Jung, Moon Geun-Young, Yum Jung-Ah
It is always tricky to remake folklore into motion picture, but Kim Jee Woon made best use of his fantastical horror to create this highest-grossing Korean horror film of all-time. Misery loves company, but most of the misery comes from one’s own company—that’s what Su Mi (Im Su Jung) felt about her family. Neglected and repressed, the girl’s home become an arcade of terror and abuse. Physically repulsive but psychologically appealing, A Tale of Two Sisters is something you won’t watch for the second time, but will haunt your mind for a very long time.
BLEAK NIGHT (2011)
DIRECTOR: Yoon Sung-Hyun
CAST: Lee Je-Hoon, Park Jung-Min, Seo Joon-Young
Looking for the story behind his son’s death by talking to his best friends, a father realizes that truth is always retrospective and incomplete. How did the things go ugly? We are asked to follow the memory lane of a broken boy named Ki-Tae (Lee Je-Hoon) to pick up the pieces of the puzzle, just to find out that at the end of the day, there is never enough piece to complete the puzzle called truth. Neither a horror nor a thriller, Bleak Night is a neo-noir drama that sheds a new light upon the most intangible mystery of life: the friendship between men.
THE WAILING (2016)
DIRECTOR: Na Hong-Jin
CAST: Kwak Do-Won, Chun Woo-Hee, Jun Kunimura
If you have watched Train to Busan, or other zombie-related movies that once boomed in Korea, you might underestimate this piece of art. Put that aside, and you’ll see how The Wailing uncovers the harsh truth: that the devil has a lot of faces, and they are only revealed when you look the other way. The film twisted the many natures of supernaturalism—from Christian, Eastern Shamanism, to Buddhism—and the result is disturbingly good. The film succeeds to reassure that the devil does not want your blood or brain—he just wanna play a trick with your mind and be the last who laughs.