The cinema of South Korea has enjoyed a steady stream of success over the last few years, mostly due to the increase in popularity of modern Korean culture. The Korean Wave, often referring to K-pop and K-dramas, has swept the world since the early 90’s, paving way for local actors and directors to become international superstars.
One of the most popular film directors to date is Park Chan-wook. Known for his black humor and brutal scenes, Park Chan-wook began to earn praise for The Vengeance Trilogy, released between 2002 and 2005. The worldwide success of the trilogy gave critically acclaimed actors such as Choi Min-sik and Bae Doona their international breakthrough. Both of them now star in several English-speaking films.
Another well-known Korean actor is Song Kang-ho. Not only does he feature in many of Park Chan-wook’s films, he also works a lot with filmmaker Bong Joon-ho. Song’s promising performance in Bong’s second film, Memories of a Murder (2003), gave them both a lift in their careers. The pair worked together again in the monster film The Host (2006) and later in the dystopian blockbuster Snowpiercer (2013), an English-language film starring Chris Evans and Tilda Swinton.
The highest-grossing films in South Korea are often historical dramas and war films, while horror films and crime thrillers are also well received. Even some of the recent mainstream productions have been praised for their creativity and original plots. Na Hong-jin, however, made his first film The Chaser (2008) based on a true story. Na is one of many talented Korean filmmakers who are beginning to earn global recognition. His two latest thrillers, including The Wailing (2016), were both screened at the Cannes Film Festival. A Hard Day (2014) by Kim Seong-hun is another crime action thriller to feature at the glamorous festival in France.