The Best South Korean Films You’ve Never Seen

(Welcome to The Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, a series that takes a look at slightly more obscure, under-the-radar, or simply under-appreciated movies. This week we celebrate Bong Joon Ho’s big win at the Academy Awards with his masterpiece ‘Parasite’ by looking back at some lesser known gems from South Korea.)

History was made recently when a non-English language film won Best Picture at the Oscars for the very first time. Parasite absolutely deserves the honor, but even better, the win is moving people toward seeking out other South Korean films too.

Danielle Ryan already put together a fantastic primer featuring some of South Korea’s best known and beloved modern classics, and every one of them are worth finding and watching immediately. I’d add to that list a few more popular gems including Memories of Murder (2003), The Chaser (2008), The Good the Bad the Weird (2008), The Housemaid (2010), The Villainess (2017), and Extreme Job (2019), and I’ll also toss in a few lower profile titles I’ve previously highlighted with this very column including The Foul King (2000), Sex Is Zero (2002), Save the Green Planet (2003), 3-Iron (2004), The President’s Last Bang (2005), Breathless (2008), Private Eye (2009), Confession of Murder (2012), The Thieves (2012), Hwayi: A Monster Boy (2013), Confidential Assignment (2017), A Taxi Driver (2017), and – look, I’ve recommended a lot of Korean films through this column.

And I’m about to suggest six more across varied genres, so please keep reading for a look at six of the best South Korean films you probably haven’t seen yet!

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Award season is ready to get into full swing, and one of the early stages of the runup to the Academy Awards is the submission of Best Animated Feature options.

This year there are nineteen submitted features, including big studio fare (Cloudy 2, The Croods, Despicable Me 2, Monsters University), one from Studio Ghibli (The Wind Rises), a European effort we’ve covered a good bit (Ernest and Celestine) and a good few films that US audiences haven’t had much chance to see yet. One pleasant side effect of the animated Oscar list is that it draws attention to films that are new to many viewers.

That said, of the studio fare there are only a couple of compelling submissions, and enough of the rest are going to be new enough to Oscar voters that this might not be much of a race. The 86th Annual Academy Award nominations will be announced on January 16, 2014, and we’ll be curious to see how many films actually make the nomination cut. The awards will be held on March 2, 2014.

Read the submission list below.

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