The very best Korean films ever - maybeIf you had to pick a selection of Korean films to save for posterity, which would they be?
Any answers are bound to be controversial but a recent online survey conducted by the Korean Film Archive showed that at the top of most people’s lists is “Our Twisted Hero” by Park Jong-won, an allegorical film about totalitarian regimes.
In second place was “Seopyeonje,” a film about pansori artists by Im Kwon-taek; next came “Mother and a Guest” by the late filmmaker Shin Sang-ok.
The list shows the wide spectrum of Korean cinema, which has undergone a dramatic transformation over the last few decades as a new generation of Korean directors began to sweep through the industry, developing a new style which has been increasingly popular with the international film community.
“Our Twisted Hero,” which is based on a popular novel by Yi Mun-yeol, features a group of school students ranging from bullies to good students and the tensions that build between them.
Park’s film is not the only political title to make the list, which also includes “A Single Spark” by Park Kwang-su, a film about the life of Jeon Tae-il, a young garment factory worker who set himself on fire as a protest against the poor working conditions of his colleagues in the 70s.
“Whale Hunting:” by Bae Chang-ho, is a road movie featuring three strangers who meet while traveling. “Aimless Bullet,” shot in 1961 by Yu Hyeon-mok, delves into the devastation of Korea amidst the aftermath of the war. The film depicts a family in which each member struggles with different problems: The story is told by a narrator who has a severe toothache. “The Housemaid” by Kim Ki-young explores the life of a seductive housemaid; “The March of Fools” by Ha Gil-jong deals with a group of college students under the growing influence of Western culture in the 1970s; “Barefooted Youth” by Kim Ki-duk, which stars Shin Seong-il and Eom Aeng-ran, features a love affair between the daughter of a wealthy diplomat and a reckless hoodlum.
Another undisputed classic is “Sonagi” by Go Young-nam. It is a coming of age saga. “The Ball Shot by a Midget” by Lee Won-se is a tale of a midget and his self-sacrificing wife. Lastly there’s Hong Sang-su’s“The Day a Pig Fell into a Well,” which signaled the beginning of new wave cinema when it first hit theaters in 1996.
* For a detailed schedule, call 02-521-3147. There are English subtitles for all films except “The Day a Pig Fell into a Well”
by Park Soo-mee