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5 Korean Movies to Watch Over Spring Break

Are you one of the many who are about to enter their spring break? Or are you already in it? Regardless, if you’re bored and looking for some entertainment over your break without having to leave the comfort of your own room, check out one or all five of these Korean movies. Whether you’re into romance, comedy, action or looking for all three in one, I’ve got a movie for you!

1. A Millionaire’s First Love

Starring actor Hyun Bin, known for his roles in dramas such as Secret Garden and most recently Hyde, Jekyll and Me, and actress Lee Yeon-hee of East of Eden and Gu Family Book, A Millionaire’s First Love is built around a sorrowful love story. Kang Jae-kyung, played by Hyun Bin, lost both his parents in a terrible car accident when he was younger, which left a hefty scar in his heart and mentality. Jae-kyung’s wealthy grandfather took guardianship of him after the accident and with the typical rich kid syndrome; he grew up to be arrogant and snotty. Jae-kyung was set to inherit his grandfather’s fortune, under the condition that he transferred to a new school in Gangwon Province, to focus on his studies and graduate. Choi Eun-hwan, played by Yeon-hee, is a vivacious and spunky orphan, who attends the same high school that Jae-kyung is sent to.

No matter what Jae-kyung does and where he goes, he always runs into Eun-hwan; not only is she their class president at school but she’s also the cashier at a convenience store that he frequents and she also works at their local gas station and even delivered gas to his broken down car once. Little does Jae-kyung know though, that this isn’t all coincidence but they both actually share a deep past together, a past in which he’s tried extremely hard to block out. Eun-hwan clearly remembers and knows exactly who Jae-kyung is, but he on the other hand doesn’t have a clue as to who she is or as to why she keeps sticking to him like glue. I suppose hanging around him all the time must’ve worked out, because as time passed, they grew closer and they eventually grew to love one another; only for Jae-kyung to discover that Eun-hwan’s days are limited. But what’s a Korean movie without someone being diagnosed with a terminal illness?

What’s going to happen to these two young lovers? And what exactly is their history? You’ll have to watch the movie to find out!


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2. A Moment to Remember

A Moment to Remember is based on the Japanese television show, Pure Soul. It follows the unexpected love story of Su-jin, played by actress Son Ye-jin, known for her roles in The Classic and Summer Scent, and a man named Chul-soo, played by actor Jung Woo-sung, known for his roles in Athena: Goddess of War and Padam Padam…The Sound of His and Her Heartbeats. Su-jin and Chul-soo both come from two different worlds; you have Su-jin, this upbeat, bright, always perky and happy girl, who’s lived her entire life doing things her way, and who also happens to be the daughter of a CEO of a construction firm, and Chul-soo, a quiet and reserved guy, who’s an aspiring architect, that works at one of Su-jin’s father’s sites as the construction foreman.

Once she spotted him on her father’s work sight, she knew she had to have him. Due to her outgoing personality, Su-jin wasted no time in trying to court Chul-soo; and Chul-soo didn’t put up too much of a fight either, seeing how he was just as interested in her as she was in him.

Although Su-jin’s father disapproved of their relationship, that didn’t stop them from moving in with one another and eventually getting married. Their love for one another was undeniable and everything in the world seemed perfect, as if nothing could ever go wrong. That is, until Su-jin is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Su-jin is in denial; she is nervous and feels burdened that she’ll eventually forget her beloved husband one day, but with the help and unconditional love from Chul-soo, the two fight through the oncoming obstacles, together.

Did Su-jin end up forgetting Chul-soo? Did they stay together? Everything from their first meeting to the beginning of their relationship was unorthodox and completely unconventional, but if things were meant to be, if it’s true love, then they’ll always fall into their rightful place.

3. 200 Pounds Beauty

Are you tired of those typical sad love stories? If so, here’s a refreshing comedy for you! 200 Pounds Beauty is about an overweight girl, Kang Han-na, played by Kim Ah-joong, who undergoes a number of extreme plastic surgeries to become a pop sensation. Han-na doesn’t want to get the procedures done just so that she can be considered beautiful, but she wants them done so that they can help boost her self-esteem and confidence, so that she can finally live what she deems as a normal life.

In order to live up to her new look and to prevent anyone from finding out who she is, Han-na creates a new identity for herself, she is now a Korean-American from California named Jenny. In an attempt to make Han Sang-jun, played by Joo Jin-moo, fall in love with her, Jenny auditions to be a ghost vocalist for an old rival, Ammy, in order to get close to Sang-jun. To everyone’s surprise, Jenny’s voice resembled one of someone else that they used to know, Han-na, but without anyone detecting that it was in fact her, she was able to score her own record contract and now she would no longer have to live in anyone else’s shadow. With this new identity and body, not only is she a star on the rise and receiving love from the public, but she’s also finally gaining the interest and love of Sang-jun.

Ammy is certain that something fishy is going on with the disappearance of Han-na and with the new and sudden arrival of Jenny. In order for her revival in the industry, Ammy tries everything to seek Han-na out. Sang-jun had already turned his back on her, so she was desperate more than ever. Those around Jenny also begin to question the identity of this mysterious woman who appeared before them, with the eventual discovery that Jenny is Kang Han-na the entire time.

What was Sang-jun’s reaction to finding out that he’s been lied to by Han-na? And whom was he actually falling for, Han-na or Jenny?

4. Spellbound

I’m a big Son Ye-jin and Lee Min-ki fan, so when I found out they filmed a movie together, I knew it was a must watch. Spellbound is a horror romantic comedy, based around a street, turned big time, magician, Ma Jo-goo, played by Lee Min-ki, and Kang Yeo-ri, played by Son Ye-jin, who has the unfortunate ability of seeing ghosts. These ghosts continuously seek out Yeo-ri in order to receive closure, and until she helps resolve the issue for them, they’ll always hang around her. Due to this, she’s unable to have a social life and isolates herself from the outside world because she’s scared those around her will be harmed. This includes only having phone calls with her best friend in which she hasn’t seen in ten years.

Her quiet life takes a surprising turn when she encounters Jo-goo. He is completely unaware of the crazy occurrences that go on in her life, but insists on making her be a part of his big magic show. Although she’s a part of the staff and is constantly around other people, she wants nothing to do with them once her shift is over. After declining to go out for many company dinners, Jo-goo finally drags her out for a drinking session and discovers her (drunken) and unique personality. The more he see’s her, the more he’s intrigued by her; he wants to know everything about her but Yeo-ri is terrified of letting anyone get close to her, since it might put them in danger. As their feelings blossom for one another, Jo-goo discovers the difficult and lonely world that Yeo-ri’s been living in, and wants to be there to protect her, although the thought of being followed by these ghosts terrifies him out of his wits.

Do you think Jo-goo will stick around long enough to help Yeo-ri chase these bad guys out of her life, or will he be chased out before he gets the chance to even come close enough?


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5. Secretly, Greatly

Over the last couple of years, there’s been a number of films based around North Korean spies, but Secretly, Greatly is probably the most light hearted out of all of them. The film is an action packed comedy and drama, starring Kim Soo-hyun who plays Lieutenant Won Ryu-hwan, which is his North Korean alias but his new identity in South Korea is Bang Dong-gu. He’s dubbed as the top agent in North Korea with a full set of skills; he’s fluent in 5 different languages and has a remarkable ability of reading people. He’s disguised as a village idiot while in South Korea. Park Ki-woong plays Rhee Hae-rang/Kim Min-su, son of a high ranking North Korean official, who’s in the south as a singer wannabe and Lee Hyun-woo plays the role of Rhee Hae-jin, the youngest North Korean secret agent in history, who is disguised as a south Korean high school student.

The three are sent to South Korea in hopes of unifying Korea. They’re set to acculturate the small town, quiet lifestyle in South Korea, while awaiting their orders from the North. One of them waited months, while another has been waiting years to receive any orders. Due to the extensive wait period, these spies gradually start to get used to their life as ordinary neighbors in their small towns. Dong-gu grew very fond of the grandmother that he works for; he even had a crush on a neighboring girl. Dong-gu and the other agents are aware that there are others like them in South Korea, but there hasn’t been a reason for them to meet or bump heads.

One day, Dong-gu, Min-su and Hae-jin are assigned the secret and great mission that they’ve been eagerly awaiting. This is it, this is what they’ve been waiting for, it was right in front of them; until a sudden change in events, the Second Battle of Yeonpyeong, put a halt on the long awaited mission. The North is promised financial aid from the South, under the condition that they’re given the names, location and rank of the North Korean spies that are active in the South; the North must turn in their spies in order to reap the benefits. To prevent their spies from falling into enemy hands, the North orders that Dong-gu, Min-su and Hae-jin abort their mission and take their own lives before the government gets to them. Coming from the North, it’s instilled in these spies to forever be loyal to their one and only leader and country, therefore, they must do whatever it takes to protect their beloved country.

Will these agents heed their new orders or will they turn their backs on those who have turned their backs on them?

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m usually drawn to the love orientated and sappy it took us so long to finally be together but unfortunately one of us is going to die Korean movies (and dramas). Although I’m fully aware that I’ll get emotional and probably cry in all the scenes, I still watch them anyway! I’m not crazy with gruesome scenes so I tend to stay away from the intense action movies. Most of the time, the ones I watch have very predictable synopses and I’m usually able to uncover the ending a fourth of the way into the film, and if I like it, I’ll continue watching it and if it becomes too much then I’ll stop. Is this the same for you?

Have you already seen these movies? If not, what are you waiting for?! Share your thoughts in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

South Korea’s Portrayal of North Korea Isn’t A Comedy So Stop Laughing at ‘The Interview’

James Franco and Seth Rogen think that North Korea is a joke, based on the trailers for The Interview. But South Korea doesn’t really think the same way.

North Korea may be a crazy country that allegedly hacked Sony because of a single movie, but South Korea thinks of North Korea less as the deranged cousin that it doesn’t want to see as much as a long-lost sibling. Sometimes  North and South Korea are portrayed as lovers, sometimes as mortal enemies; it just depends on what movie or show you’re watching.

Hot on the heels of one of the biggest entertainment industry hacks in history, the Seth Rogen-James Franco comedy The Interview is all people seem to be able to talk about. And the fact that it is a comedy movie about assassinating the dictator of North Korea, Kim Jong Un, emphasizes how Hollywood thinks that North Korea is a big joke.

“The Interview” via Tumblr

But to South Korea, North Korea is anything but a joke and this can be seen in the variety of ways that North Korea is portrayed in a variety of South Korean films and television shows.

[Spoilers ahead.]

Shiri (1998)

The first film Korean blockbuster, Shiri (also known as Swiri) had it all; explosives, spies, romance, North Korean-South Korean reunification… Yes, Shiri was the first Korean film to really address the fact that North Korea, while depicted as a military state with countless deadly spies, is South Korea’s twin state. The two countries have been divided since the 1940’s and the politicians in the film were meeting to figure out a potential path to reuniting the two halves of the whole. Shiri humanized North Korea in a way that had never been seen in South Korean film.

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The movie ends with many deaths and a tragic love story between North and South Korean operatives. But the main point of the movie is that they are simply Korean, it doesn’t matter what side of the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone that separates the Koreas) someone lives on. So too, does the shiri fish swims in both North Korean and South Korean waters, but doesn’t know where one country’s waters begin and the others ends.

King 2 Hearts (2012)

A drama in a what-if world where South Korea retained its monarchy after the Korean War, but the countries are still divided. So many different impossible things were going on during this television show that it seems unlikely that anything real was truly represented. But the tensions between North and South Korea, where sometimes the two countries are on the brink of war and other times working together to help the people of both nations, were accurately portrayed.

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The idea of North Korea and South Korea being lovers who are separated by outside factors has become a sort of anthropological narrative in South Korea. King 2 Hearts is just one example of a situation where the two lovers, Lee Seung Gi and Ha Ji Won, are stand in for the tempestuous relationship of the country. Unlike Shiri where the lovers were unable to be together due to the differences, King 2 Hearts represents a more hopeful view for the future of the two Koreas.

Secretly, Greatly (2013)

This film takes a different take on the story and instead of showing the relationship between the two countries and the politicians who trying to bring about reunification like the previous examples, Secretly, Greatly shows North Korean spies falling in love with South Korea. The sleeper agents spend several years integrating into South Korean life in order to save their families from torture in North Korea, and after going to South Korea they see what it’s like to be average parts of society. Secretly, Greatly depicts North Korea as a ruthless country that is willing to kill its own elite operatives rather than risk losing those very same spies, and demands everything from its people without giving much back.

The film shows the idea that many South Koreans have of North Korea: it is an evil place that doesn’t care about its people. Secretly, Greatly is itself a comedy, but a dark comedy that is tragic. The leaders of the country are not people to mock, but instead people to be afraid of. It’s a very different take on North Korea than Shiri and King 2 Hearts, but that is because North Korea takes on so many roles as the rival nation to South Korea.

There are countless other Korean portrayals of North Korea: Iris, Doctor Stranger, Joint Security Area, and Taegukgi are just some of the more popular portrayals of North Korea by South Koreans. Many of these, the ones listed and the ones discussed in this article in depth are dramatic, some are comedic, and many are both. But none have evoked the wrath of North Korea by minimizing and mocking the threat that is very real to South Korea.

North Korea is portrayed many ways: lover, potential ally, enemy, etc. But South Korean filmmakers do not mock North Korea as openly as Hollywood’s The Interview, because such a complicated matter does not warrant complete disregard.

 

What do you think about South Korea’s portrayal of its relationship with North Korea in film and dramaS? Share your comments in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, TwitterInstagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.