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What Korean Movies Have Taught Me About Korean Culture

Posted: November 21st, 2011 5:49 pm
by robleeteach7418

I decided to write down my observations because these have been constant themes in the 40+ Korean movies I've watched in the past few weeks.

If I were to believe everything in Korean movies, this is what I would conclude.


-It's okay to think that the poor are inferior.

-The innocent are always screwed over, punished, or end up dying.

-Fighting for what's right or moral is frowned upon if it causes trouble for other people, especially the wrongdoers. Instead, you should not fight for what's right and feel guilty about doing the right thing.
-Making a valid complaint is selfish and will get you and your family in trouble.
-Just take the unjust punishment to make other people's lives easier.

-Everyone is corrupt (cops, politicians, teachers, school administrators).
-Bribes and gift giving is the only way to get ahead in life.
-Merit has no value.

-Detectives regularly falsify proof.
-Detectives & prosecutors decide if you're guilty regardless of proof.
-It's okay to beat suspects, regardless of proof.
-Street cops don't have any real authority and civilians don't respect them. They're treated worse than American mall security guards.

-Everyone is a '***CENSORED***' and calling each other that, even strangers, is okay.
-Korean people on a whole are very mercurial. They go into a psychotic rage very easily over little things without reason or proof of any wrongdoing against them.
-Hitting/slapping/kicking someone is an allowable response to someone you don't like or to someone you think that has wronged you.
-No one ever looks at all the evidence. Jumping to conclusions is the norm.

-It's always someone else's fault. No one ever takes responsibilities for their actions.
-No one ever apologizes for their mistakes.
-Apologies that are made are meaningless. Bowing your head and apologizing is a sufficient apology.
-No one ever makes any real amends.

-There's a sense of entitlement amongst those who feel they are superior (the rich, politicians, superiors at the work place). There's a "Do you know who I am?" attitude.
-Having a certain occupation makes you "better" than others.
-Having a higher rank at work means it's okay to demean your subordinates.

-No one wants to do the work for anything, but expects the reward. People, especially in higher ranks, expect others to do the work and feel entitled that others do it for them.
-No one can be bothered to do something for someone else, even if it's their job to do it.

-There's an "everyone is out to get me" attitude. "The world is against me." "Woe is me."

-The government doesn't care about its citizens, especially, the impoverished, mentally handicapped, or victims of crimes.

-It's okay for teachers to hit their students.
-It's okay for superiors at work to hit their employees.

-Korean culture is all about social status.
-Koreans are a materialistic society.
-There's a name brand status mentality.

-Parents and teachers always know what's best for children.

-Female bullying at school is prevalent and reaches near death levels.
-Bullying is okay.

-Koreans are opportunistic and take advantage of other people, especially the weak and poor, and feel no guilt about it. It's all about seeing what they can get out of someone else.

Posted: January 3rd, 2012 2:13 pm
by phoenixroo7239
Haha.. Pretty good.

I'd like to add...

-Rich families are run like the mafia.
-If you try to divorce your husband, your in-laws will have you declared insane and take away your children.
-If a boy and a girl pretend to be dating to please their families, they will eventually fall in love.
-Girls pretend to be boys all the time.
-Boys will always fall in love with other boys who are actually girls in disguise.

Edit: Almost forgot
-A poor orphan girl is always secretly the princess.

Posted: August 19th, 2012 6:56 am
by trutherous
Wow! Too Funny!

Yeah Korean movies and drama are gross exaggerations of certain aspects of Korean society. In no way should they be considered accurate. It's like the Hollywood movies that make you think all Americans run around with guns and that there is a running gun battle with explosive car chases every other day.

Other K-drama fiction points:

According to K-drama - Korean parents will always oppose a marriage to anyone except a secretly narcissistic psychopath that they, being utterly deceived by his/her charms, have selected as spousal material.

According to K-drama - Parents always approve a candidate for marriage based on the wealth, power, and fame of that candidate's family.


Possibly more true than not --In Korea if you don't have a university degree you are no better than dirt.... unless, of course, you have a lot of wealth, power, or fame... then you're ok. So young people, let this be a lesson, stay in school and get that degree!

Posted: August 20th, 2012 2:23 pm
by kc101com
Hi trutherous,

That's a really big points to go over! You must watch a lot to even analyze Korean dramas!wow

A lot of Korean actions movies deal with guns and car chases!haha with a lot of cursing of course

I just don't understand this point!

secretly narcissistic psychopath?haha What does that even mean! i don't get it for spousal material...

Dramas always reflect reality and i wouldn't lie about watching out all qualifications when it comes to marriage candidates! So true as I am a Korean gal. haha

University degrees are very important as well.. You know the big difference is it's not as expensive as Americans at all! It's probably one third or something.

It's always good to have a degree than not right?

I guess that we do not really have well-made vocational schools unless it comes to arts, nursing, engineering, or something like that.

I can tell Koreans have really unique culture!

Thank you


Posted: August 20th, 2012 5:16 pm
by trutherous
secretly narcissistic psychopath?haha What does that even mean! i don't get it for spousal material...

lol --guess I wasn't thinking clearly :lol: perhaps it would have been more accurate to say "sociopath" than psychopath but it still conveys the idea of someone who is emotionally handicapped, or selfish to the point of criminal disregard of other people's feelings or well being.

a sociopath who manages to hide his narcissism from everyone just long enough to ALMOST marry the 주인공 of a Korean drama

spousal material - 신랑/신부 감

한국 드라마에 부모들은 항상 (실수/ 속임 때문에) 저런 사람을 사위/며느리로 원하는 것 같아요. 그 말이었어요.

Posted: August 21st, 2012 10:33 pm
by kc101com
Hi trutherous,

Okay! So you mean they get deceived!! That makes sense :)

There is always scheme to twist the real love or the real 주연 being in love.

Now I completely understand!haha

Thank you


Re: What Korean Movies Have Taught Me About Korean Culture

Posted: May 28th, 2013 9:34 am
by paul6930
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!

Re: What Korean Movies Have Taught Me About Korean Culture

Posted: May 29th, 2013 6:49 am
by kc101com
Wow Paul,

I am definitely impressed how well you have observed Korean culture through the dramas and movies!

It is indeed the best way to learn as it definitely points out the particular culture or nature of Koreans are - or even the history!

It is true that Korea has been well mingled with the western, especially America.

You wouldn't be surprised if you get to meet so many Korean Americans in both Korea and America! (You know how big K-Town is in LA and New York right?;) )

I definitely agree with you on the part that even though there still exsits the buddhist and confucian backgrounds, a lot of people also believe in Christian.

Thesedays there are a lot of christians just as many as buddhists.

I hope you keep up with your great work - it is truly amazing to see that you are pursuing yourself to further understand and truly enjoy different culture with joy!

Thank you for your interest and please ask us anytime when you have questions!

We are always here to help ;)

Thank you


Re: What Korean Movies Have Taught Me About Korean Culture

Posted: May 29th, 2013 2:08 pm
by paul6930
Thank you for your reply, Madison. I enjoyed writing that as it made me crystallize some of my thoughts and feelings about Korean cinema and culture by writing it.

Right now I'm going through the 60 lesson Pimsleur course in Korean (tape 19 right now) but I really think you guys have a great thing going here. I listened to the first two lessons with Keith and Seol and was really impressed.

Learning Hangul and can recognize and pronounce the vowels but still have a little way to go with the consonants.

After seeing what you have here I think this may be even better than the Pimsleur which I've always considered the best way to learn a foreign language.

Gotta budget my money but I may soon subscribe to a month to month premium. I like the idea of those 2000 vocabulary words and the quiz thing.

Anyways, have a great day!


Re: What Korean Movies Have Taught Me About Korean Culture

Posted: June 5th, 2013 3:14 am
by kc101com
Hello Paul,

That is amazing that you are so passionate about Korean! Pimsleur sounds like quite a course!:)

You are already 1/3 done there so far and you should keep up with it forsure.

We do support you for no matter what - it is a great pleasure to see someone like you who is so paassionate about our language, culture, and the media that we are proud of :)

Have you enjoyed our 7 days free trial of premium account for the scheming through our website?:)

I reckon it would be a great alternative to see our website in deeper level! ;)

Thank you


Re: What Korean Movies Have Taught Me About Korean Culture

Posted: June 6th, 2013 5:04 am
by paul6930
Well, actually, Madison, right after I posted my last comment I decided to go for Premium. Up to lesson 7 now (phone numbers) and am doing the first flashcards thing.

Love the flashcards. Forcing me to not only learn new words but also to read Hangul!

Have a great day,


Re: What Korean Movies Have Taught Me About Korean Culture

Posted: June 6th, 2013 3:28 pm
by team.relationships
Hi Paul!

Thank you for being a Premium member!
It's great you're enjoying so much the flashcards!

Have a great day too!
Thank you!


Re: What Korean Movies Have Taught Me About Korean Culture

Posted: July 8th, 2013 9:11 am
by sashattack
One more thing your missing is that mothers are the worst people ever. Always against everything and everyone. Psycho moms! Eeee!

And don't know what I would do without premium. I love it.

Re: What Korean Movies Have Taught Me About Korean Culture

Posted: July 8th, 2013 10:50 am
by dira777pr3238
I saw over 100 films and over 50 korean novels will know that I have so many issues to compare but ... Koreans dramas have taught me a lot of culture. their legends, customs, eating, sleeping and of course the difficult marriage and love life which exceed 30 years. Also that the mother in law is a nightmare, minus the Playful Kiss. If this is the reality in Korea feel sorry for all seals, Lol But I've also learned that it has many values ​​and Whining is better than having respect for their older people.

Re: What Korean Movies Have Taught Me About Korean Culture

Posted: August 29th, 2013 12:20 pm
by wx9102181159
I understand Korean beauty, their films are very beautiful, good-looking. You know when you see the kind of actress bikinibeauty, you will be very happy