For those interested in watching good films from South Korea, here are 10 Korean movies from 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 ready 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. Chunhyang - If you like period pieces, Chunhyang is the story of a hidden love and marriage between a nobleman and the daughter of a courtesan in 18th century Korea. Chunhyang reveals the harsh realities of pre-modern Korean society. When the noble husband goes away for a time, an official takes interest in the bride, which you know is going to lead to trouble. Guns & Talk - After a tearjerker, you might want to watch a comedy. Guns & Talk is a comedy about four guys who decide to become a team of assassins. When a couple of detectives get on their case, things get a little crazy. While Guns & Talk has a number of implausible situations, if you go into the movie with the right attitude, you should like it. Guns & Talk has a slick visuals, though if you don't like occasional split-screens, you might take a pass. Memories of Murder - Yet another Korean movie based on real events is Memories of Murder, about the serial killer who terrorized South Korea from 1986 to 1991. Memories of Murder was a hit with both critics and the audience, so expect an artistic film that holds your attention. Great South Korean Films The Korean film industry has begun to make a big impact with East Asian movie audiences in the past 10 years or so, and Korea's movies are beginning to reach a wider audience in North America. If you like these 10 South Korean films, keep searching for good Asian movies and expand your viewing experience.
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