I'm a cab driver in Minneapolis, MN. Over the last few years I've had the opportunity to take a lot of Asian kids from a private school who are from Viet Nam, China, Taiwan, Japan and Korea.
Lots of idle time in the cab business so I decided to start to learn Korean as a hobby.
Anyways, what does this have to do with Korean movies?
Well, I've probably watched about 30 Korean movies in the last few months and am in the middle of a K-Drama right now, "Lie to Me". Got into it because I really liked Kang Ji-Hwan's acting in "My Girlfriend is an Agent." He's a great actor and so is Yoon Eun-Hye.
Anyway, having lived quite a while and been in contact with many cultures through the cab business and my upbringing overseas I thought it would be interesting to scour what I could about Korean culture from their movies.
The first post was funny -- tongue-in-cheek -- because the writer was telling us about Korean culture as though the movies tell us exactly how it is.
Here's my take:
There's definitely that Bhuddist influence of remaining calm and self-controlled but there's kind of a funny acknowledgement that sometimes you just have to let it all out! In Korean movies guys cry a lot. You just wouldn't see that often in American movies -- I'm talking about sincere sorrow -- not crying played for laughs. You also see women slapping men and men taking it like a man and not striking back. Sometimes you see violence against women but often it's the women venting their anger in a physical striking out.
I see Korean culture very strongly influenced by American culture (duh? Korean war -- American troops in Korea) however, as an American I find it kind of a neat blend that appeals to me. There's a lot of Christian influence. You will see movies in which people pretend to bring Bibles to a door, churches and crosses in the background or someone saying "God bless you " to which the reply is, "I'm Buddhist!" (LOL)
What I'm happy about is that Korean culture is not TOO strongly influenced by American culture. Korean women tend to dress modestly, flesh isn't shown for the sake of titillation (yes, I know there are movies like that but most tell a story, not try to enlarge the audience by appealing to prurient interests). Even love scenes tend to be implied, not dwelt upon.
Definitely there's a lot of violence in Korean movies -- gang turf fighting and killing. That would leave you to believe there's a lot of corruption and mafia-style control in the under-belly of society. However, like American movies, a lot of things are emphasized for drama that are not as prevalent as they might appear.
There are a lot of bathroom scenes, people sitting on the toilet (modestly filmed) but there seems to be a lot of that. Also it would appear that while taking a pee in a Korean men's room you just might have a female attendant walking around cleaning up (which would make me feel a little weird -- not that way in the United States).
I would guess there's a little fatalism in the Korean soul by some of the movies -- movies where a male and female are fated never to be together because one is dying. One movie that really left me feeling sour was "Failan" (파이란). Yikes! I just don't like movies that play with your emotions like that only to leave you feeling this hole in my heart! Oh and that brings me to another pet peeve -- the movie poster for Failan shows Failan hugging Kang-jae. Uh, sorry, never happens -- false advertising -- got suckered into that one!
One more thing -- are Koreans drunk all the time? ! I'm just kidding but boy does drinking and getting drunk factor big time in Korean movies.
One thing I find kind of cute is all the Korean movies with girls piggy-backing on boys. Seems like another part of Korean culture where the girl rides piggy back on the boyfriend if she's hurt an ankle or just plain tired (or as in the above paragraph - drunk!).
Okay, there's a lot more I could say but I'll leave this post with a positive note and name my favorite Korean movies so far:
My Dear Desperado ( 내 깡패 같은 애인) -- tale of redemption, selfishness to selflessness with a wonderful, manipulative, progressive ending!
My Girlfriend is an Agent (7급 공무원) Brilliantly executed and hilarious spoof!
Harmony (하모니) Heartwarming tale of hapless women in jail, most of them abused, who had murdered their abuser, or were in prison for other offenses, who form a choir. Had me in tears throughout!
A Brand New Life (여행자) Kim Sae-ron and Park Do-Yeon are great child actors in this one -- a sad tale with hope at the end.
Castaway on the Moon (김씨표류기) Brilliant! Just brilliant! Not one boring scene. You are led step by step into the minds of a would-be suicide and a young woman living in a fantasy world who are brought together in a way that only the brilliant mind of the writer could have conceived!
Last edited by paul6930 on May 29th, 2013 2:23 am, edited 1 time in total.