If you loved ‘Parasite’ here are all the other Korean movies you need to watch
It’s hard to believe only a little over three months ago Parasite won Best Picture in one of the most stacked Oscar races in the past decade. Seemingly nothing has been the same since, as 2020 has not been very kind to many.
While quarantine can cause extreme boredom, we cinephiles thrive in this environment. If you’re one of the many still riding the Parasite train, we recommend starting with these other superb Korean films.
The Host (2006)
It’s only fitting we start with another Bong Joon-ho film. When the American military dumps hazardous chemicals into the Han river, a creature emerges years later and wreaks havoc on the town. After it abducts the daughter of a poor vendor (Song Kong-ho), his entire family embarks to find the creature and rescue his daughter.
Many of Bong Joon-ho’s works possess deep, complex themes and The Host is no exception. Themes of resistance, family struggles, and international affairs hide under the layer of a typical monster movie with impressive integrative skill.
The Host is dark & ominous, yet never loses focus on its bigger, broader themes. That’s why Bong Joon-ho has become such a household name in the world of cinema.
The Host is available to stream now on Hulu.
Based on a short story by Haruki Murakami, psychological drama Burning follows Jongsu, who runs into his old childhood friend Haemi. Not long after, Haemi returns from a trip with a man named Ben. His rich lifestyle and weird hobby immediately garner suspicion from Jongsu as Burning unravels and dives deeper into one’s own psyche.
Burning is an incredibly fascinating movie as it slowly peels back its layers, revealing a dark, thrilling, and suspenseful core. Led by career-best performances from Yoo Ah-in & Steven Yeun, the feature examines wealth & social classes. (Sensing a theme here?)
Burning is available to stream on Netflix.
A Taxi Driver (2017)
Not to be confused with the 70s classic Taxi Driver starring Robert De Niro, A Taxi Driver is a true story about a foreign reporter who hires a taxi driver to take him to Gwanju only to find the city under siege among protests & military action.
Led by an incredible performance by Song Kang-ho, A Taxi Driver is a brilliantly crafted film capable of balancing comedy with heavy dramatic elements to move the audience. While at times A Taxi Driver is hard to watch due to its subject matter, it leaves the audience feeling hopeful that things can and will get better – a message everyone can use right now.
A Taxi Driver is available to stream now on Hulu.
The Handmaiden (2016)
With one of the best teaser trailers ever (seriously go watch it), The Handmaiden is a psychological thriller about a con man who devises a plan to seduce a Japanese woman out of her inheritance.
Clocking in at a runtime of two hours and forty-eight minutes, there’s a lot to unpack in this film. The Handmaiden is blatantly sexual & tremendously violent, but manages to portray exceptional beauty at the same time. Much like Parasite, everyone should watch this movie at least once in his or her life.
The Handmaiden is available to stream on Amazon Prime now.
Train to Busan (2016)
Before Parasite won over audiences outside South Korea, Train to Busan was the big international hit – so much so that a sequel was greenlit & scheduled to release later this year (pending COVID-19).
The premise of Train to Busan is simple: a man & his daughter become trapped on a train during a zombie outbreak. Along with a few other passengers, they must fight their way through and find safety.
While it may sound like a rather typical zombie movie, Train to Busan is littered with so much heart and care for its characters that it levitates from pedestrian to transcendent. It’s terrifying & thrilling, managing to leave an emotional punch that will leave audiences wiping their faces for the next hour afterward.
Train to Busan is available to stream on Netflix.
Memories of Murder (2003)
We’re finishing the list like how we started it: a Bong Joon-ho film. Many rate Memories of Murder Bong Joon-ho’s best film after Parasite. Song Kang-ho once again leads as a detective assigned to a murder case apparently for the first serial killer in South Korea. The cop and his partner must use their wits and basic tools to help catch the serial killer as more murders continue.
Before Bong Joon-ho took home a Best Director Oscar, he crafted one of the most effective crime thrillers of the past century. Filled with dark humor and social commentary (there it is again), Memories of Murder makes for one of the most skillful & daring ventures of Bong Joon-ho’s career.
Unfortunately, Memories of Murder is not available via streaming services, but is available to rent on iTunes.