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  Korean Cinema Recommendations by LunaSea  
  As you might have noticed, reviewer LunaSea's favorite films come from Korea. This is a list that includes his favorite Korean films from the past, present and future, and will frequently be updated. Unlike his reviews - where he pretends to be objective - this is a list of what he enjoys on a personal level.  
  Art Museum By The Zoo (1998)
There's a reason Lee Jung-hyang (who also directed superhit The Way Home) is one of the most adored directors in Korea by critics and fans alike. Her ability to tell interesting stories - with unconventional, quirky style - is almost unmatched in the industry. At first sight this may seem like another romantic comedy. However, the understated pace, the chemistry between Lee Sung-jae and Shim Eun-ha, and the delightful score create an irresistible atmosphere of sweet, quiet beauty.
  Christmas in August (1998)
LunaSea's favorite film. Ever. 1998 was a magic year for Shim Eun-ha thanks to this film and Art Museum By The Zoo. Christmas in August is her breakout performance, and made her a superstar. Hur Jin-ho's film has an understated tone that often recalls Japanese master Yasujiro Ozu. The characters are realistic and interesting, and the story never becomes the manipulative mess most other directors would have made. Christmas in August is deservedly acclaimed as an all-time classic of Korean Cinema.
Flower Island (2001)
Poetry in motion. Song Il-gon made a big impression with his short Picnic, but who would have thought his first feature would be so good? This film has a visceral power that very few films possess. Flower Island marks one of those rare occasions when a small work becomes timeless thanks to memorable characters and an involving story. If you see a (female) buddy road movie this year, make Flower Island your choice.
  The Foul King (2000)
Kim Ji-woon's comedy is a riot, but it also offers some food for thought. Song Kang-ho is the ultimate underdog trying to achieve something meaningful, even if it means donning a mask and pretending to beat up people in a wrestling ring. Other than Song Kang-ho's usual greatness (he performed all his own stunts!), the film features a hilarious performance from Korea's most underappreciated supporting actor, Park Sang-myun. The Foul King is laugh-out-loud funny but never dumb, and features intelligent characters and quirky, tongue-in-cheek plot developments. The film also teaches you how to escape a headlock. What more could you possibly ask for?
  Green Fish (1997)
Lee Chang-dong's debut film is an amazing one. It's honest, shocking, touching and uncompromising. Han Suk-kyu is at his best here, and Lee's ability to draw compelling characters out of everyday people is probably what makes him great. The film also has a vaguely nostalgic feeling hidden underneath commentary on Korea's rapid industrialization. Lee Chang-dong continued his fine work with the excellent Peppermint Candy, and it seems like his latest, Oasis, might be just as good.
  Happy End (1999)
Mix Korea's two best actors (Choi Min-shik, Jeon Do-yeon), a third man, and a baby. No, it's not the usual menage à trois drama. It starts as that, but develops into something reminiscent of the work of Alfred Hitchcock. Maybe it won't be a Happy End for all the characters in this film, but it's sure to be one for you. This is a tremendous film.
  Joint Security Area (2000)
This film will still be interesting thirty years from now. Joint Security Area has tremendous historical resonance. It's one of those rare films that manages to involve with realistic themes, intelligent social commentary and touching drama. Song Kang-ho is superb, and this great work put director Park Chan-wook on the map as one of Korea's best filmmakers. Koreans - North and South - should be proud of this film.
  Nowhere To Hide (1999)
One of the craziest, most entertaining Korean films of the nineties. Lee Myung-sae satirizes genres, brings style to delightful excess, and draws memorable performances from Ahn Sung-ki and Park Joong-hoon. One thing very few people mention about the film is that it features many of the finest supporting actors in Korea, including Park Sang-myun and Lee Won-jong. This is also composer Jo Sung-woo's best work, mixing several genres together and carrying the pace of the film. A perfect mix of comedy, interesting characters, over-the-top action and a great soundtrack.

Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002)
Expectations were high, but Park Chan-wook's follow-up to Joint Security Area is terrific. The terformances from Bae Doo-na, Shin Ha-kyun and Song Kang-ho are top notch, and the film is visually memorable. You won't find the quirky, touching friendship of JSA here. This film is dark, gritty and uncompromising. But thanks to Park, it's as compelling as his previous work.

  Virgin Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors (2000)
Oh! Soo-jung. Is it a woman's name, the Korean word for crystal (and fertility), or the original title of this film? Answer: all of the above. Hong Sang-soo's masterful ability to recreate realistic relationships has never been better. The film is irreverent, funny, touching and intelligent. The director made relative newcomer Lee Eun-joo look like a diva, and she helped him with a great performance. This is an astonishingly beautiful film shot in black and white, and proof of Hong Sang-soo's amazing talent.
  The Best of the Rest  
  So many great films, so little space...  
Highest Possible Recommendation
Bad Guy (2002)
The Black Republic (1990)
The Day a Pig Fell into The Well (1996)
The Lovers of WoomukBaemi (1991)
The Marines Who Never Returned (1963)
Memento Mori (1999)
Nabi (2001)
One Fine Spring Day (2001)
The Turning Gate (2002)
Peppermint Candy (2000)
A Petal (1996)
The Power of Kangwon Province (1998)
School Excursion (1969)
A Single Spark (1995)
Sopyonje (1993)
To You From Me (1994)
The Story of Two Women (1994)
The Surrogate Womb (1987)
The Quiet Family (1998)
Take Care of My Cat (2001)
Highly Recommended
301/302 (1995)
An Affair (1998)
Attack The Gas Station (1999)
Barking Dogs Never Bite (2000)
Bungee Jumping of Their Own (2001)
Champion (2002)
Chunhyang (2000)
A Day (2001)
Die Bad (2000)
The Eternal Empire (1995)
Failan (2001)
Guns & Talks (2001)
The Harmonium in My Memory (1999)
Hi Dharma! (2001)
The Housemaid (1960)
Il Mare (2000)
The Isle (2000)
Mandara (1981)
Musa: The Warrior (2001)
My Beautiful Girl, Mari (2002)
My Heart (2000)
My Sassy Girl (2001)
No. 3 (1997)
Our Contemporaries (1999)
Public Enemy (2002)
Push! Push! (1997)
The Ring Virus (1999)
A Seaside Village (1965)
Spring in My Hometown (1998)
Sorum (2001)
The Spy, Lee Chul-jin (1999)
Their Last Love Affair (1996)
Three Friends (1996)
To The Starry Island (1993)
Waikiki Brothers (2001)
The Way Home (2002)
White Badge (1992)
Why Has Bodhi-Dharma Left for The East? (1989)
2009 Lost Memories (2002)
Address Unknown (2001)
The Anarchists (2000)
Asako in Ruby Shoes (2000)
An Autumn Journey (1992)
Bad Movie (1997)
Beat (1997)
Bedroom and Courtroom (1998)
Besa me Mucho (2001)
Bitter & Sweet (1995)
Bong-ja (2000)
Channel 69 (1996)
The Contact (1997)
Death Song (1991)
Dinosaur Dooly (1996)
Ditto (2000)
Downfall (1997)
Farewell, My Darling (1996)
Fin De Siecle/End of Century (1999)
First Love (1993)
Fly High, Run Far (1991)
Festival (1996)
Friend (2001)
The Gingko Bed (1996)
Gagman (1989)
Ghost in Love (1999)
Girls' Night Out (1998)
The Happenings (1998)
Hoodlum Lessons (1996)
How To Top My Wife (1994)
The Humanist (2001)
Interview (2000)
Lies (1999)
Les Insurges/The Uprising (1999)
I Wish I Had a Wife (2001)
Just Do It (2000)
Kazoku Cinema (1998)

Kick The Moon (2001)
Kilimanjaro (2000)
The Last Present (2001)
The Legend of Gingko (2000)
Love Bakery (2000)
Love Story (1995)
Love Wind, Love Song (1999)
A Masterpiece in My Life (2000)
Millions in My Account (1996)
Motel Cactus (1997)
My Beautiful Days (2002)
My Boss My Hero (2001)
My Love, My Bride (1990)
My Own Breathing (2000)
My Wife is a Gangster (2001)
There is No Sun (1998)
Paradise Villa (2000)
Phantom The Submarine (1999)
Phone (2002)
Pisces (2000)
Plum Blossom (2000)
Prison World Cup (2001)
A Promise (1998)
Rainbow Trout (1999)
Raybang (2001)
Real Fiction (2000)
Say Yes (2001)
Secret Tears (2000)
Shiri (1999)
Taekwondo (1998)
The Taebaek Mountains (1994)
Tears (2001)
Tell Me Something (1999)
Two Cops (1993)
Wanee & Junah (2001)
Whispering Corridors (1998)
The Young Man (1994)

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