Top 10 Korean Movies for the year 2012
Originally published in The Korea Guide
This year too Google has published the zietgeist for 2012 highlighting the top 10 most searched Korean Movies in South Korea. Concubine tops the list as expected. A sultry erotic drama well-crafted in a Joseon Dynasty palace in which a royal consort is thrown into a merciless game of thrones, but it’s more than a sexed-up Korean Movie, as it skillfully interweaves compelling lust-hate relationships, character twists and familiar court intrigue.
The Top 10 most searched Korean Movies for the year 2012
Concubine – 후궁: 제왕의 첩 (Hoo-goong: Je-wang-eui Cheob)
Living a torturous life of poverty and barely able to survive, Hwa-yeon (Jo Yeo-jeong) decides to offer herself as one of the king’s concubines. Once inside the royal palace, two men are immediately seized by the woman – the Grand Prince Seong-won (Kim Dong-wuk), a megalomaniacal ruler drunk with power and lust, and Kwon-yoo (Kim Min-joon), who has everything to lose if his desire for Hwa-yeon is exposed. As political intrigue begins to infiltrate this love triangle, the palace is revealed as hell-like space of passion and obsession from which any of these characters will be lucky to emerge from still alive.
Unbowed – 부러진 화살 (Bureojin Hwasal)
The controversial “Unbowed” dramatizes 2007’s Crossbow Terror Incident between a college professor and a judge. It was inspired by the true story of Kim Kyung-ho, a math professor who was arrested for shooting a crossbow at the presiding judge of his appeal against wrongful dismissal. Ahn Seong-gi plays the professor, creating an impression stronger than expected. The physicality of his silence telegraphs the movie’s theme. Nah Yeong-hee’s realistic performance as his wife, Park Won-sang’s as the lawyer, and Kim Ji-ho’s as a reporter also lend the film increased authenticity. This was director Chung Ji-young’s first film after a 13-year hiatus and it received a 13-minute ovation at its 2011 Busan International Film Festival premiere.
Architecture 101 – 건축학 개론 (Geon-chook-hak-gae-ron)
35-year-old architect Seung-Min receives a visit at his office from a woman. Seung-Min doesn’t recognize the woman at first, but then realizes the woman is Seo-Yeon. Seo-Yeon is his first love, but he hasn’t seen her since his freshman year in college. Seo-Yeon now has a request. She wants to hire Seung-Min to rebuild her home on Jeju Island. 15 years ago, Seung-Min is a naive young man beginning his architecture studies in college. He first meets Seo-Yeon in his Architecture 101 class. As they work on a class project together, Seung-Min and Seo-Yeon begin to fall in love. Back to the present day, Seung-Min is hesitant to take Seo-Yeon’s job offer. Seo-Yeon persists and even goes to his boss with her wish. Seung-Min now has no choice, but to take on Seo-Yeon’s home project. Old memories of love and heartbreak will soon resurface, as they find themselves at different junctions in their lives.
A Muse – 은교 (Eun-gyo)
If you think this movie was an adaptation of Lolita then you are strongly mistaken. A Muse, another controversial movie from Korea, is a 2012 movie adaptation of celebrated author Park Bum-shin’s sensational novel Eun-gyo. A meditation on aging, art, and loneliness, it follows a 70-year-old poet who falls in love with a high school girl and is inspired to write a short story about her. But his star student, who is jealous of the relationship, steals his literary work to publish under his own name.
Deranged – 연가시 (Yeongasi)
Deranged is a 2012 South Korean science fiction horror thriller film and Korea’s first film on an infectious disease epidemic, starring Kim Myung-min, Kim Dong-wan of Shinhwa and Lee Ha-nui. When a series of dead bodies are found floating in the Han River, the public is shocked to discover that the deaths are related to a fatal outbreak of virus-infected mutant parasitic horsehair worms, called ‘Yeongasi’, that can control the human brain. Those infected show symptoms of increased hunger without appropriate weight gain and excessive thirst when the worms are mature and ready to reproduce. Hence, they jump into the river to allow the worms to come out of the body. While the authorities work to find a cure, Jae-hyuk and his brother Jae-pil struggle to save Jae-hyuk’s family when they also exhibit similar symptoms.
Howling – 하울링
An action drama, where the truth of a ‘wolfdog’ related to the case reveals itself to ‘Sang-gil’, a veteran crime squad detective who is investigating a series of murders through natural combustion, and newly appointed female detective ‘Eun-young’ (Lee Na-young).
Nameless Gangster – 범죄와의 전쟁 (Bumchoiwaui junjaeng)
The film is set in the 1980s and ’90s in Busan when corruption and crime was so rampant that the government declared war on it in 1990. On the verge of being fired, a corrupt customs official finds a haul of drugs and teams up with a vicious gangster to become the most powerful crime partnership in Busan.
Helpless – 화차 (Hwa Cha)
Adapted from the novel by Miyabe Miyuki, who is known as the queen of crime fiction in Japan. A man searches for his fiancée who vanished without a trace just before their wedding ceremony, only to discover the shocking identity of her. The novel is considered one of top 10 best mystery novels in Japan of all time and stirred up social issues upon its domestic release. Prepare yourself for a compellingly complex and layered mystery thriller that leaves you wondering who really is left Helpless.
The Thieves – 도둑들 (Dodukdeul)
The Thieves is a 2012 South Korean heist film directed by Choi Dong-hun with an all-star ensemble cast. Splashy action in overseas locations is mixed with double-dealings and multiple betrayals as a gang of South Korean thieves team up with a Hong Kong crew to steal a diamond necklace from a heavily-guarded casino safe in Macau. While working together to steal this fabled diamond, they all have their own agenda to keep the diamond for themselves. But who will succeed and live to see another day? With over 12.9 million ticket sales, the action comedy is currently the second highest grossing movie in Korean film history.
Pace Maker – 페이스 메이커
A human drama based on an unlucky marathoner who had always been running as a 30km pace maker but gets to challenge a 42.195 km marathon for the first time in his life. A player who supports the rhythm of a rising star during a game in swimming, long distance running, cycling and others.