5 Korean Film Directors to Know Today

It seems that after Parasite's (2019) Oscar triumph and the phenomenal success of Squid Game (2021) this year, Hallyu, or the Korean wave, has finally swept the world. Whereas previously the business was limited to K-pop and food, now more and more eyes are turning to the cinema of South Korea. And for good reason! Meet five directors to start with.

by Anna Shabashova


Kim Ki-duk (1960 - 2020)
Kim Ki-duk has repeatedly become triumphant of prestigious international awards. His films have been celebrated in Cannes, Berlin and Venice. The director's most prominent works are 3-Iron (2004), Samaritan Girl (2004), Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter ... And Spring (2003). A special feature of Kim Ki-duk's style is a kind of dark atmosphere mixed with a minimum of dialogues. His style is recognised by the deliberate visibility and thoughtful composition of each frame. It is on the visual component that the director builds the dramatic effect of his films. He creates very subtle and deep works. In Korea, Kim Ki-duk is loved and hated at the same time. Scandals have flared up around him more than once: from accusations of misogyny to cruelty to animals.
Park Chang-wook (1963 - ...)
One of the pioneers of Korean cinema in Russia. His Oldboy (2003) at one time amazed Quentin Tarantino and almost won the main prize of the Kan Film Festival - only one vote was missing. Three of his main films - Oldboy, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002) and Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (2005) are included in the trilogy of revenge. These are rather dark and violent tapes that raise often taboo questions. Get ready for brutality, nasty scenes and stunning plot twists. The director's pictures may disguise themselves as other genres, such as detective stories or action films, but first of all, they are heavy psychological dramas. This is a completely wild, uncompromising, shocking, but at the same time hypnotizing and virtuoso movie.
Hong Sang-soo (1960 - ...)
A director who is often overlooked on such lists - and vainly! Hong Sang-soo's filmography is very peculiar, the director has a unique signature that cannot be confused with anything. His films are more like visual essays, sketches from the lives of his characters. Don't seek mind-blowing plot twists or plenty of action. Hong Sang-soo creates meditative movies about the meaning of life, people, and the world in general. Among the most famous films are Right Now, Wrong Then (2015), The Woman Who Ran (2020) and On the Beach at Night Alone (2017). These are philosophical essays that look like the pages of one photo album. Not nearly all of the director's films are united by the figure of Kim Min-hee, an actress who constantly appears in his works.
Im Kwon-taek (1936 - ...)
Im Kwon-taek is an acclaimed classic and mastermind of Korean cinema. He has been in this industry for over half a century. In fact, all modern young directors in South Korea were raised by his films. There , Im Kwon Taek reflects on Korean culture and its characteristics, its past, present and future. The genres of his paintings are diverse: these are melodramas (The End of Desire), and gangster action films (Gangsters from Myeongdong), and historical action films (Swordsmen). By the way, the latter genre becomes amazing when it comes to Koreans. Im Kwon-taek was the first Korean to receive the Best Director award at the Cannes Film Festival.
Bong Joon-ho (1969 - ...)
Bong Joon-Ho became famous in Russia after the release of Parasite, but in South Korea he was popular before that. By genre, his work can be attributed to dramatic thrillers. Among the most famous are Memories of Murder (2003), Mother (2009), and Snowpiercer (2013). In his art, Bong Joon Ho raises serious social problems: the stratification of society, class differences, crime, ecology. If you like the idea of Parasite, we recommend that you watch the drama Snowpiercer. Don't be fooled by the disguise of a post-apocalyptic action movie, you need to dig deeper into the snow. By the way, such Hollywood actors as Tilda Swinton and Chris Evans starred in Bong Joon-Ho's films.
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