Some popular Korean films include Park Hoon-jung’s “New World,” Jang Chul-soo’s “Bedeviled” and Lee Su-jin’s “Han Gong-ju.” These Korean dramas were all well-received by film critics.
Gangster movies are a staple of Korean cinema, but Park Hoon-jung’s 2013 film, “New World,” presents familiar tropes with modern style. The story of an undercover cop struggling with a rapidly-expanding criminal syndicate and his own conflicted loyalty, the film covers familiar territory but stays fresh, thanks to well-paced drama and excellent action sequences.
Jang Chul-soo’s 2010 horror/thriller film, “Bedeviled,” is simultaneously difficult and rewarding. Hae-won is an overworked woman who takes a break to visit Bok-nam, an old friend who now lives on a remote island. Hae-won finds her friend treated little better than a slave by her uncaring husband, and the film contains scenes of cruelty and degradation. Building to a climax in which Bok-nam finally lashes out, this dark, disturbing film won the Korean equivalent of an Oscar for lead actress Seo Yeong-hie’s performance.
“Han Gong-ju” stars Chun Woo-hee as the film’s eponymous protagonist, a teenage girl who is sent to live in a new town. Chun Woo-hee turns in a gripping performance as a distant, emotionally shattered abuse victim, and the film unfolds slowly to reveal the trauma that the main character has experienced. This 2013 film was Lee Su-jin’s debut, establishing the director as a powerful new voice in Korean cinema.