In an ideal world of the best Korean dramas, art is divorced from politics and the underlying vision of the artist can be expressed. Despite the political ramifications of such an act. In both South and North Korea, this has not always been the case.
Both countries have historically been rife with political drama. And have only recently minimized their interference with domestic filmmakers. Despite such obstacles, Korean filmmakers have been resilient. And have managed to put out riveting content that rivals the international film scene.
The 3 Best Korean Dramas
The following is an analysis of the 3 best Korean dramatic films of the last 20 years.
Here’s A Relevant Video From YouTube:
Mother – Bong Joon-ho
Bong Joon-ho, a modern South Korean Filmmaker, is most widely known in the western world for his recent English-language debuts Snowpiercer and Okja, both starring the fantastic Tilda Swinton. However, his best film is arguably the 2009 best Korean dramas, Mother.
The film follows an unlawful son as he confronts allegations of murder, but focuses interestingly on the mother, whose name is never revealed, as she navigates the consequences of these allegations. Joon-ho is undoubtedly an auteur who transcends genre in this film by hovering in the realm of horror, comedy, and family best Korean dramas.
What results is something violent yet gentle, a strangely twisted testament to the power of love. Within a morally ambiguous world of red-tape and absurd legal systems. Like another more recent American film that shares the same name. Mother concerned with what lies beneath the surface of language. Whether that is simple, categorical language or the more abstract language of violence through tools.
Mother is less concerned with motherhood. Per se than with the origins of our motivations and the sacrifices involved with our love. If any of these themes pique your interest. Then you will love this film.
Joint Security Area – Park Chan-wook
Park Chan-wook is another Korean filmmaker who is intensely visual and often explores the consequences of violence in his films. Like Bong, he has also recently had an English-language debut with his film Stoker. Joint Security Area, however, is one of his best films and was the highest grossing film in South Korean history after its release.
Chan-wook has always been fascinated by the intersection of fantasy, violence, and revenge. And his portrayal of these subjects is more unflinching and direct than Bong’s. Joint Security Area is concerned with politically charged violence. And what makes this film fascinating to watch is the knowledge that it could not have been made or released 60 years ago.
The film follows the unfolding of events surrounding a shooting that occurs within the DMZ between North and South Korea. Chan-wook is less artsy in this film than his later work. But his framing and camera work is so nuanced that depth is still conveyed.
Chan-wook has always been vocal about his interest in pain and fear. Particularly when it is experienced absurdly surrounding any kind of violence. This film explores these themes but does so beneath the surface of an emotional drama of brotherhood, unity, and war. Thus, like the best films, it affects you on an unconscious level.
Poetry – Lee Chang-dong
Poetry, a profoundly moving epic from Lee Chang-dong, follows the story of an elderly woman suffering from Alzheimer’s as she turns to poetry for respite. This is a slower film than the two previously discussed. But its gradual build eventually pays off. The film also does not shy away from darker themes like death and emptiness in a paternal, repressive society. But takes a different route than Joint Security Area and Mother.
Chang-dong opens and closes the film with themes of death. Yet each is charged with ambiguity. Such a decision reflects the reality of death and the uncertainty that accompanies it. However, the film feels very gentle and fluid, like the river in the opening shot of the film. And this represents the stream-like realm of consciousness that artists access in moments of vision.
Poetry is such a fascinating film because it pairs one of the most solitary and quiet of the arts with themes of fear, death, and anxiety. The film uses the spectrum between these opposites to portray the simple tale of a woman contemplating her imminent end. It is emotionally volatile yet calming and sedating at the same time. It is an experience that should not be missed.
The Best of Korean Drama
The art of any culture reflects the underlying concerns of that culture. And it is no different from the Korean Film Industry. As you can gather from this list. Best Korean dramas often explore violence and decay within a politically charged and suppressive landscape.
These three films are fascinating explorations of these themes. And yet each takes a different route. Poetry is gentle, Mother is quietly devastating, and Joint Security Area is direct and unflinching. They are the best that Korean cinema has to offer.