The South Korean cinema is here to stay! Shortly after the Korean War and the revival of the film industry, Park Chung-hee’s government censored the film industry and as a result many filmmakers weren’t able to tap into their full potential with perhaps the exceptions of Kim Ki-Young and Im Kwon-Taek.
During the last two decades however, the Korean film industry is in a continuous rising trajectory. Many talented filmmakers such as Joon-Ho Bong and Kim Jee-woon are leading the New Wave of Korean cinema with great films of various genres. Although it sometimes seem that Hollywood and Europe don’t get the South Korean cinema, saying that the comedy is forced or over-the-top, it is safe to say that some of the films produced in the last years are indeed worth a watch.
The Irishman is back and has created a list of the best South Korean comedies of the New Wave. Find out which are the top South Korean comedies below.
5. Attack the Gas Station! – 1999
One of the first comedies of the South Korean cinema’s New Wave is Attack the Gas Station!. The movie follows 4 Korean teenagers who decide to rob a gas station. When they have the brilliant idea to rob the gas station again, all chaos breaks loose. This is a great and unique South Korean comedy that is definitely worth a watch. Furthermore, a sequel for Attack the Gas Station! was released in 2010, however, it was never as good as the original.
4. Save the Green Planet! – 2003
Save the Green Planet! one of the best South Korean comedies was written and directed by Joon-Hwan Jang. This comedy tells the story of Byeong-gu who claims that the world will soon be invaded by aliens. His mission: Save the world! This hilarious South Korean comedy won many awards in international film festivals including the Golden Raven in the Brussels International Festival of Fantasy Film. Finally, this inventive comedy received an 87% score on Rotten Tomatoes with a rating of 7.3/10.
3. A Man Who Was Superman – 2008
A Man Who Was Superman is a great feel-good South Korean comedy written and directed by Yoon-chul Chung. This South Korean comedy follows an uptight movie producer who decides to make a documentary about one of her neighbours who just happens to believe that he is Superman. This South Korean comedy offers some very funny scenes but still never fails to pass a serious message on how self-centred society is nowadays.
2. The Good the Bad the Weird – 2008
The Good the Bad the Weird, is without a doubt one of the best South Korean comedies and the most famous one worldwide. This South Korean western film (we didn’t know it was a thing) was praised for its action and also its cinematography. Written and directed by Kim Jee-woon, this action/comedy film set in 1940s Manchuria follows two bandits and and a bounty hunter who are all trying to get in their possession a treasure map. However, this won’t come easy as they are being hunted by the Japanese Army and other Chinese bandits. In addition to its great action sequences, The Good the Bad the Weird offers some great laughs and it is definitely one of the best Korean comedies of all time.
1. Miracle in Cell No. 7 – 2013
Miracle in Cell No. 7 is undoubtedly one of the best South Korean comedies of all time. The film, directed by Hwan-kyung Lee, tells the story of a special bond between a mentally-challenged dad and his 7-year old daughter. After the father is accused of murder and rape he’s in put in prison, in room number 7. The mission of the rest of the criminals in his cell is to protect them from all the other prisoners. People with mental challenges are still somewhat of a taboo in the ROK and this film is one of the first ones to have a mentally challenged protagonist.
Special Mention – Top South Korean Comedies
Miss Granny – 2014
Miss Granny, one of the newest South Korean comedies, was directed by Dong-hyuk Hwang. The movie follows an elderly widow (or ajumma) who realised that she is turning into a burden for her family. However, in a mysterious turn of events, she suddenly transforms into her 20-year old self. This “Big”-like South Korean comedy offers a new flavour in the previously-seen fantasy movie genre with some hilarious bits. Finally, the movie features one of the most prolific South Korean actresses, Na Moon-hee, who plays the role of Granny for a few scenes in the beginning of the movie.
Battle Ground 625 – 2005
Although this war comedy didn’t make our list it still deserves a special mention. This original comedy follows soldiers from both Koreas during the divide who live among villagers who are unaware of the war. The results are hilarious.
Enjoyed this article? Why not take a look at the 5 movies filmed in Seoul?