The Impact of Korean Films

By: Young Kim 

Hollywood has always been the center within the film industry since the beginning of movies. As time progressed, many countries began to develop a movie sector in order to fuel their nation’s entertainment industry. Only in recent years has the world really begun to open their eyes to other international films, especially with the numerous accolades of Parasite, a South Korean film, in the Cannes Film Festival as well as the Academy Awards. Garnering the attention of critics all over the world, Parasite’s win as the Best Picture in the Academy Awards set a new precedent allowing countries to break through the barriers of the exclusive film industry. This win not only brought South Korea their first win in the Oscars but the public attention to the rest of the global film industry usually hidden behind the behemoth of Hollywood. 

South Korea began creating films directly after the liberation from Japan Colonial rule. These films were mostly centered around the independence movement. Nowadays, Korean films have entered almost every genre possible with international hits such as Train to Busan and Oldboy. Both brought in aspects of the Korean culture to a wider global audience bringing in a new aspect to the action and horror genres. 

While other forms of entertainment such as television dramas and music have become widespread in the more recent years, it seems that the proper introduction of Korean films have only begun. With Korean Director Bong Joon Ho stating, “Once you overcome the 1-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.” This perfectly summarizes the problem with subjecting oneself to a limited amount of movies just because of a language barrier. In an age where information is shared almost instantaneously, audiences should go out looking for other films sharing different takes of international perspectives. It is often shocking to consider that one may glance over their next favorite movie simply because of the movie not being in English. 

In fact, companies such as A24 and Neon, which are very small compared to their competition such as Sony, Netflix, and Universal, took the opportunity to go with Asian stories instead of the traditional American setting. A24 worked on projects such as The Farewell about a Chinese American family who returns to China to say goodbye to dying grandmother and have recently released a trailer for their new movie titled Minari; a story about Korean immigrants who move to America to chase the American Dream. As entertainment companies begin to open up to the infinite possibilities brought by bringing in perspectives from all aspects of life, a new exciting generation of film seems to be created. The American life becomes much more than the black and white lives established in the beginning of America and adds in the millions of immigrants which make America the diverse nation it is.

Many may consider the Academy’s decision as a way to appear more progressive in front of the media. Despite these comments, many viewers of the movie openly disagree. People respected the work and dedication put into the storytelling of Parasite as a refresher during a time when many movies can only be considered “mediocre” by many. The attention to detail and subtle comedic moments in the dramatic thriller can only be characterized as “different”. All cultures tackle movies in different ways and while some may look weirder than the conventional movies, that does not necessarily equate to bad. 

We are in a new age of discovery. Not a discovery of land or invention but rather the discovery of the multiple perspectives that can be experienced entirely through film.