10 Outstanding Movies for Learning Korean
Today, many people are fluent in multiple languages. Most people speak English to some degree, but even native English speakers often decide to learn a second or third language. Usually, the second language is German, Italian, or French, but recently more and more young people prefer the languages of the Asian region.
The most popular are Korean and Japanese. Consuming content in the original language is an excellent and modern way to consolidate the acquired knowledge. It can be movies, games, books, or even live streams of native speakers. Today we will talk about Korean cinema because it is a great way to immerse yourself in Korean culture and continue learning the language.
Korean films have long been underestimated in world culture but have gained more confident positions in recent years. Korean movies often borrow from many of Hollywood's best practices but bring their ideas to each picture. Due to the oriental coloring, films from South Korea often turn out to be more creative, exciting, and original than the ideas of world-famous directors that have become obsolete many times. Korean films are also becoming a favorite essay topic these days and can be a reference example in the question of how to write a movie review.
#1 "Parasite", 2019
The award-winning movie "Parasite" offers a compelling look into the stark class divide in Seoul through the eyes of Gi-taek (Song Kang-ho) and his family, who live in a dispiriting Banjiha, or semi-basement house. When Gi-taek's son, Gi-woo (Choi Wooshik), discovers an opportunity for English teaching work in Korea that pays well, he attempts to bring his entire family on board. Filled with simple dialogue and easy-to-understand language, it is highly enjoyable for Korean student viewers both at home and abroad.
"Parasite" has rightfully managed to capture worldwide attention by becoming one of the first non-English films to bag several awards, including an Oscar - highlighting the crucial importance of Korean cinema in international film production today.
#2 "Miracle in Cell No.7", 2013
This heartfelt comedy film will have you reaching for the tissues. When an innocent, mentally ill father is wrongfully accused of murder, he finds solace in some real criminals imprisoned there. Together, they hatch a plan to bring his daughter into the cell so that she can spend time with her dad before he's sentenced.
Drawing on inspiration from actual events such as Chuncheon's incident where police falsely accused a man of rape and murder, resulting in him being held for years without charge, this movie contains many patterns and nuances which offer viewers an enjoyable introduction to colloquial Korean phrases at an upper-intermediate level or above!
#3 "Oldboy", 2003
"Oldboy" is a dark and thrilling epic from the South Korean film industry that gained incredible fame 17 years after it was released. The story follows Oh Dae-su (Choi Min-sik) as he is shockingly held captive in a cell for 15 long years with no knowledge of why he had been taken, only to be suddenly released with just five days to take his revenge before becoming entwined in another conspiracy beyond his wildest expectations.
Along this journey, Mi-do enters Oh's life as a young sushi chef - introducing newfound love into the escalating plotlines around him. The movie contains some graphic scenes best suited for those with a strong stomach but also serves as one of the best Korean movies for learning the language, based on Garon Tsuchiya's Japanese manga of the same name.
#4 "Be with You", 2018
This romantic film starring the "Crash Landing on You" actress Son Ye-jin and well-known Korean actor So Ji-sub tells the incredible story of a promise kept: after she dies, Soo-ah (Son Ye-jin) returns to Woo-jin (So Ji-sub), her husband, before the first rainy day one year later.
Surprisingly enough for Woo Jin, his wife reclaims no conscious recollections of their bond together-while he's trying to revive those memories. A remake of Takuji Ichikawa's novel as well as a 2004 Japanese movie bearing the same title, this picture is sure to transport viewers into an enchanting sight and soundscape with its distinctive Korean accents and pronunciation; not only that but also it will help anyone interested in learning new languages spoken in Asia.
#5 "Little Forest", 2018
The "Little Forest" Korean movie, directed by Yim Soon-rye and based on the manga series of the same name written by Daisuke Igarashi in 2002, is nothing short of amazing. Focusing on Hye-won (Kim Tae-ri), a young woman struggling with both life's difficulties and attaining the national qualification exam to become a teacher, you follow her journey as she leaves Seoul after failing the test and returns to her hometown.
Through reconnecting with the people that have been so influential in her life up until now, she subtle yet noticeably shapes herself into who she wants to be despite extensive obstacles blocking every stride forward. Perfect for anyone looking for an inspiring tale or preparing to take one of Korea's various higher-level language exams - such as TOPIK, EPS-TOPIK, or KLAT - this film will fill your spirit with comfort and hope, whatever difficulty may come your way.
#6 "The Call", 2020
In "The Call", two mysterious women of the same age portray contrasting generations. Park Shin-hye plays Kim Seo-yeon in 2019, while Jeon Jong-seo portrays Oh Yeong-sook hailing from 1999 through a phone line that links both timescales. This intense, action-packed thriller keeps you glued to the edge of your seat with perfectly timed suspense.
As an added bonus for language learners, this movie features conversations over various telephone calls displaying common phrases used when receiving one, like "Hello? Who is it?" or "How can I help you?". The old Korean pop culture presented throughout adds fun nostalgia for classic K-pop fans, making it a very entertaining movie.
#7 "Scandal Makers", 2008
What if you found out, as a 36-year-old, that you had an unexpected 22-year-old daughter - and that daughter also has a 6-year-old son? This is the reality Nam Hyeon-soo faces, knowing that his public identity as an iconic former boy band member could be tarnished. Enter Hwang Jeong-nam with her young son in tow; Ki-dong told Hyeon-soo that Hwang was indeed his daughter.
With all these secrets up in the air, what should he do to protect it? Adding onto this already captivating movie is its promising audio suitability for learning purposes; even more interesting would be the practice of honorifics heard through dialogue. While it features ten memorable songs, little Ki-dong truly steals the show with his charming cuteness!
#8 "My Sassy Girl", 2001
"My Sassy Girl" is an entertaining blend of comedy, oddness, and surprise elements. As the title translates to 'That Bizarre Girl', viewers can expect plenty of fun that only intensifies as the story progresses. The movie stars Jun Ji-hyun as a drunk girl who meets college student Kyeon-woo on the subway in Seoul and ties him into her many misadventures.
Written originally by Kim Ho-sik based on his real-life blog series about his girlfriend, this delightfully unique romantic comedy won't soon be forgotten! Perfect for those looking to catch a Korean cinematic masterpiece or are fans of charming love stories - "My Sassy Girl" has something for everyone!
#9 "Forgotten", 2017
Directed by Jang Hang-jun, this film covers a variety of genres, such as sci-fi, horror, psychological thrillers, and mystery. Moreover, it stars various acclaimed Korean drama actors like Kang Ha-neul - who is well-recognized among content consumers. He is also known to overachieve when it comes to his acting skills.
The story centers around Jin-seok alongside his mother, father, and older brother Yoo-seok. After moving into their new house, they start experiencing strange events until one fateful night when Yoo-seok gets abducted in front of Jin-seok's eyes, only to return 19 days later with unusual behavior tactics from before the abduction. From this moment on, both brothers come together to uncover what happened in those missing nineteen days using concise words for better understanding, resulting in learning new vocabulary very quickly.
#10 "My Annoying Brother", 2016
"My Annoying Brother" is a comedy about two estranged stepbrothers. Doo-sik was recently released from jail for fraud, while Doo-yeong is a hardworking judo athlete who has lost his vision due to an injury. Although they cannot stand each other initially, residing together gives them both a chance to discover their true feelings and get into comedic hijinks.
K-pop fans may be particularly interested in this movie since it stars Do Kyung-soo of EXO, showcasing the group's talent outside of singing and dancing abilities. This film draws on Korean humor to illustrate its main messages and conflicts between the protagonists that ultimately take them toward reconciliation.