Beyond ‘Parasite’: 5 South Korean Movies To Stream

South Korea has bet so much on its culture that obesity seems to have emerged around the world for his song starting with K-pop (seriously, every day there are several trends related to the most representative bands of the genre); but also of their productions for television (memory memory The Squid Game it’s crazy and HERE we tell you why); and his who.

With the latter, we have to be honest and honest. Our relationship has been somewhat unfair for many years, because we have only turned to see the films that manage to have an international impact such as the case of Oldboy and the revenge trilogy. But outside of that, for many years we kept it at bay.

Parasite / Photo: Courtesy of Netflix

Everything changed in 2019 when it was released Parasite and it made history everywhere (it is the first “foreign” film to win the Oscar for Best Picture), enhancing the discourse of the screening of films that have subtitles with the same force as those produced in Hollywood or the UK.

So in the middle of a conversation about the culture of South Korea, here we arm ourselves a short list of South Korean movies that are streaming and worthwhile.

Thirst

MUBI

Oldboy It is one of the most outstanding South Korean films into the new millennium while its director, Park Chan-Wook, is one of the most acclaimed filmmakers based on his narrative. AND in 2009, he released one of his best films entitled Thirst, which stars a vampire. And in 2009, this represented a huge risk … especially if the vampire shone (here it does not shine, don’t worry).

On Thirst we meet Sang-hyun, a young priest who has many doubts about his faith; so that volunteers to get infected with a strange virus in order to try a treatment. The priest survives, but On his return to South Korea, he notices a need for blood, which he satisfies among some people who are in hospitals in a coma.

Thirst

Image from ‘Thirst’ (2009). / Photo: MUBI

Along with addiction to blood, come some “Powers” of vampires such as the ability to heal. In this way, he becomes sexually involved with a woman who is not a believer, but wishes to have the vampire qualities of the protagonist. Sang-hyun becomes a vampire who sucks blood as far as the person is offered, but on the other hand, Tae-joo believes that he must hunt down his victims and harness the power.

What Park Chan-Wook does with Thirst is to face a dark and pessimistic story under the guise of a vampire. Anyone who has seen the director’s revenge trilogy will find some similarities in the development of the story, especially with Lady Vengeance. But the difference between that trilogy and this film is that the characters are vampires and in some way, they justify their actions by a bodily need beyond survival.

Train to Busan

Netflix

George A. Romero’s legacy is undeniable within the zombie genre. Currently, there are a huge number of productions that appeal to the undead; however, it is fair to say that most do not meet expectations and, precisely, the director’s legacy from the 1960s.

But here we are to make good recommendations, and within that universe, stand out Train to Busan by Yeon Sang-ho, which premiered in 2016 and gave way to a saga that has triumphed both at the box office and critically. Train to Busan features a new virus that is spread among the population by various districts of South Korea.

Train to Busan

Image from ‘Train to Busan’ (2016)

Here we meet Seok-Woo, an investor who takes a train to take his daughter to her mother in Busan (the relationship between father and daughter is not so good because he is immersed in his work). However, during the trip, the news reported the crash in various parts of the country … except in Busan, the only area in which the army managed to contain the zombies.

So that passengers organize to make it to Busan alive as they confront the infected who remained on the train. Here, of course, we meet noble and brave characters who seek the common good, but also detestable subjects who complicate the plot.

Night in Paradise

Netflix

Stories of revenge, mafias, long fights with bare hands and characters who sacrifice themselves. If you’re a fan of all of that or just one of those features, then Night in Paradise is for you. This tape is from Park Hoon-jung, who worked on the script for I Saw the Devil, one of the best movies of the millennium directed by Park Chan-Wook.

So that Night in Pradise, after passing through the Venice Film Festival in 2020, it has the seal of guarantee. Here we meet Tae-gu, who is the second hand of a mob leader in South Korea. He is loyal and usually obeys without questioning things despite some indications that make him uncomfortable or seem exaggerated (and more because his boss is an explosive guy).

Night in Paradise

Foto: Netflix

Tae-gu is so good at his job, that other gangsters have tried to convince him to work for them; However, he remains firm in his decision to be with Mr. Yang. But this is what leads him to a family tragedy in which he becomes the target of the same men he has led.

The protagonist must flee to a space where he must not wear elegant suits, nor is he surrounded by people, or anything. But it’s right here, on the other side of the coin, where he really finds out who he is. Night in Pradise it’s packed with huge action sequences that remind us of just how good the director is in the noir genre.

The Priests

Prime Video

Movies about exorcisms or possession cases often focus on the horror factor. Exploit all the resources of the genre to explore, only on the surface, the ability of human beings to deal with evil that is not inherent in them (that is, it comes from the unknown and from higher entities).

However, that is the most prominent and interesting factor. That is why we want to put in the list of The Priests by Jang Jae-hyun, a thriller that uses an alleged demonic possession as a pretext, to explore the darkest aspects of human beings in their struggle between good and evil.

The Priests

Imagen de ‘The Priests’ / Foto: Letterboxd

It all begins when a girl suffers from an accident that has her in a coma. The father of his church, Kim, has noticed some strange things in the case of the girl, pointing to a possible possession. This same theory is supported by Choi, a young seminarian who accompanies Father Kim in the investigation of the case.

The Priests it is, in some parts, terrifying; but it focuses on the psychology of the characters with respect to the situation, so the result is interesting. This film is part of a tendency in South Korean cinema to explore spirituality, specifically that which stems from the beliefs and practices of Catholicism.

Burning

Netflix

At the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, it premiered Burnign by Lee Chang-dong as one of the most outstanding movies. This film, based on the work of Haruki Murakami, introduces us to Jongsu, an introverted young man who tends to always remain silent and behind everything.

One day, he meets again with Haemi, a beautiful young woman with whom he begins a strange relationship in which there are casual physical approaches, but nothing that gives Jongsu certainty that he can give something seriously. Haemi decides to go on a trip, so she entrusts her room and her cat to Jongsu, and in her absence, he explores the woman’s private spaces.

Burning

Imagen de ‘Burning’ / Foto: Rotten Tomatoes

When Haemi returns from the trip, she does it accompanied by Ben, an attractive and wealthy young man who first presents himself as a great guy who has serious intentions with women; However, after smoking and drinking, Ben confesses to the protagonist that he has a tendency to burn things, which is followed by Haemi’s disappearance.

And this is where things get interesting, well Burning He first points to Haemi’s whereabouts as the center of suspense, but no. In a 180 degree turn, the plot focuses on the obsessions of the two subjects: one with flames, and the other with loneliness.