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Hallyu Cinema: A brief history of Korean Wave

Unspooling the story of modern Korean cinema.

Hallyu Cinema: A brief history of Korean Wave

Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite” and its momentous win at this year’s Oscars brings to the fore much discussion about Korean cinema. More than its impeccable subversion of the crime-thriller, the film also serves as a gateway movie for those curious about South Korean cinema.

Touted as the Korean Wave, Hallyu Cinema dates back at the peak of South Korea’s democratization and its rapid development during the late 90’s. Alongside this, Korean filmmakers began receiving ample grants and funding for their films. After a long bout with dictatorship, South Korean filmmakers have grown influenced by both the sensibilities of American genre cinema and arthouse films.

Officially, the first Hallyu film is Kang Je-gyu’s spy-thriller “Shiri”. However, many consider Park Chan-wook’s war film “Joint Security Area” to be the one that started things off for the Korean Wave, what with the renown and distinctions it had received at the time.

Today, filmmakers like Park Chan-wook (“A Tale of Two Sisters”), Bong Joon-ho (“Parasite”), and Lee Chang-dong (“Burning”) are all considered prized contributors to Hallyu cinema.

In today’s video essay, created by the good folks at Little White Lies, we go on a brief oral history of the Korean Wave, working our way from Bong’s history-making win at the Oscars all the way back to its origins in the late 90’s.

Watch the full video essay below:

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