If you're a lover of K-Cinema then the name Bong Joon Ho would not elude you. I'm sure most of you know or have heard of the very famous and Oscar Award-winning film Parasite. If you liked Parasite here are two more Bong Joon Ho films that you may want to watch that will leave you with that tingly feeling in your spine as did Parasite. If you haven't seen Parasite yet read more below!
1. Mother (마더)
Released in 2009, Mother presents the tumultuous relationship between a mother and her intellectually disabled son. Mother is a neo-noir thriller and family drama film starring Kim Hye Ja and Won Bin. It also premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on the 16th of May 2009.
The film depicts how far a mother will go, not only to protect her son but shield him from taking accountability and essentially accepting his crimes as her own. Bong Joon Ho never fails to create some sort of moral twist at the end of his films and Mother is no different. He also creates films that show a very dark and somewhat realistic side of Korea and Korean culture in comparison to the romantic K-dramas a lot of K fans know.
This film portrays the views often depicted in K-dramas and films that South Koreans believe and pertain to regarding their children, especially when their child does wrong. In countless K-dramas and movies we see parents either taking the blame for their child(ren) or hiding the truth, and because of this the child(ren) on countless occasions does not take responsibility or punishment for their bad behavior. Mother ends with a sense, that the view people often have about their children is not true - showing that maybe they didn't really know their child after all but regardless their love is infinite.
2. Memories of Murder (살인의 추억)
Memories of Murder is a crime/thriller film that was released in 2003. This film is actually based on a real serial killer and was known as the Hwaseong Serial Murders. This film stars Song Kang Ho and Kim Sang Kyung who play detectives in the 1980s investigating a recurrence of rapes and murders in the Hwaseong area.
This film depicted a lot of issues within the police system at the time as well as a constant internal conflict for the main characters regarding doing what is morally right vs. wrong. After a lot of turbulence in their investigation progress is made but the ending of the film still feels obscure and unsure leaving you with a somewhat uneasy feeling.
I don't want to share too much before you watch the film but there have been updates about the real cases after this film was made. Closure regarding the crimes was only found 33 years after the crimes had happened. You can read more about this HERE.
3. Parasite (기생충)
This is for those who have not yet seen Parasite! Parasite was released in 2019 and is a thriller film. Parasite stars Song Kang Ho, Lee Sun Kyun, Cho Yeo Jeong, Choi Woo Shik, Park So Dam, Jang Hye Jin, Park Myung Hoon, and Lee Jung Eun.
Parasite depicts the harsh realities of those living in poverty in South Korean Society and presents a 'circle of life' dynamic in that each party involved acts as a parasite to the other. It presents themes of wealth inequality and the reality of those who are essentially at the bottom of the 'food chain' when it comes to life and money.
I watched this film alone and it made me cry. The rain scene broke my heart, the sad thing is that this is a reality for many living in the world today. Last year, the rains in South Korea illustrated Parasites' reality with a commonality of deaths relating to flooding in semi-basement housing also known as 'banjiha' (반지하). Read more HERE.
These movies are not for the faint-hearted as they present very harsh realities and complex societal themes. They make you think, think about life, and the reality of the world we live in. They touch your heart and not in a romantic way but leave you with an eerie feeling, questioning humanity and the people around you. What do you think about the realities presented in these films? Share your thoughts below!