Watching Korean movies with English subtitles is a great way to learn Korean. I’m going to list a couple of movies that are/were critically acclaimed by the South Korean public.
The tension and strife between North and South Korea is a popular theme for many Korean movies. Take the movie Shiri (시리). Shiri (시리) is a movie about North Korean spies infiltrating South Korea. You’ll have to see what happens, but it’s a action/thriller movie. It contains a lot of technical/science jargon and is perfect for advanced Korean students. Then there’s the movie JSA which stands for Joint Security Area (공동경비구역). JSA (공동경비구역) is a mystery thriller dealing with the South/North Korean border. Lastly, my favorite is Taegukgi: The Brotherhood of War (태국기 휘날리며). It’s based on a true story of two brothers torn apart by war, and finally tragically reuniting when they face each other in battle.
The next two movies are philosophical or what I call “thinking” movies. The messages in these movies are not always black and white and a lot is left to the viewer’s interpretation. For example the movie, Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring (봄여름가을겨울그리고봄) by the director Kim Kiduk (김기덕) is about a man who wrestles with his past through the various seasons. There is a lot of metaphor in this movie, so if you’re looking for a light, funny, comedy, you’ll probably want to steer away from this one. The movie Old Boy (올드보이) by director Bak Chanuk (박찬욱) is also one of those deep thinking movies. If you feel uncomfortable with gore, blood and pure, raw emotion, this may not be the movie for you.
Interestingly enough, Hollywood has recreated some Korean classics. The movie My Sassy Girl starring Elisha Cuthbert, is based on the Korean version of My Sassy Girl (엽기적인 그녀). Trust me, the Korean version is better. The Korean version has the right amount of humor and heartfelt emotions. It’s a great love story. The movie The Lake House starring Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves is based on the Korean movie II Mare (時越愛). It’s another love story as well.
Alright now, I’ll leave you all to watch and enjoy these movies!