by Christina Henry
After listening to this week’s episode I’m sure our listeners have figured out that I’m a
passionate fan of Korean cinema. If your first foray into Korean film is Bong Joon-ho’s
magnificent PARASITE then I’m pretty jealous – you’ve got a whole new world of fantastic
movies that you get to see for the first time. If you’re as mad about Korean film as I am then
I hope that this list encourages you to re-watch some old favorites or discover new ones.
1) MOTHER (2009) – It will come as no surprise that the first film on my list is another
Bong Joon-ho picture. This almost unbearably suspenseful movie is anchored by a
powerful performance by Kim Hye-ja as the titular mother. When her mentally
challenged son becomes a suspect in a murder investigation she undertakes her
own investigation to clear his name.
2) THE GOOD THE BAD THE WEIRD (2008) – This spectacular comedy-western-action
hybrid directed by Kim Jee-woon and starring Song Kang-ho (of PARASITE and THE
HOST) is ostensibly about a treasure hunt involving a map everyone wants but is
really an excuse to build massive action set pieces involving a train, a market, and a
chase across the desert, among others. Also has an outstanding, hummable score by
3) BURNING (2018) – An intensely disturbing film directed by Lee Chang-dong (you
should also check out his SECRET SUNSHINE) and starring Steven Yeun of Walking
Dead fame. Full of strange plot twists and narrative ambiguity, this film – like
PARASITE – is best experienced when you know as little as possible about it.
4) THE HANDMAIDEN (2016) – Loosely based on Sarah Water’s Victorian-era crime
novel Fingersmith and directed by Park Chan-wook of OLDBOY fame, this erotic
thriller is about a plot to steal the inheritance from a Japanese heiress. A con man
pretending to be a Japanese lord hires a pickpocket to pose a maid and convince the
heiress to marry him, but this simple plan becomes increasingly complex.
5) TRAIN TO BUSAN (2016) – A deeply layered and emotional take on the zombie
genre, directed with élan by Yeon Sang-ho. An overworked father and his daughter
board the train to Busan to visit her mother, and just before the train departs the
station a young woman boards. She’s infected with a mysterious virus, and fans of
zombie films know that means.
I hope you enjoy these films as much I do! Let me know what you think by dropping
us a line on Twitter – @tmi_podcast2018 – or our Facebook page at