While it is 2016 currently and Korean films are starting to pick up, it's good to look back at last year's films.
For many people, the end of last year was the era of Star Wars, since episode 7 came out. However, while Star Wars was watched by many Koreans here in Seoul, 2015 Korean films held their own. In fact, another movie, the Himalayas, outsold the famed science fiction film on opening week.
Last year had some true gems in Korean cinema worth watching. From action to romance, 2015 was sure to have a film for everyone.
With that being said, here's five movies to watch in 2015 in no particular order.
Dealing with the dark, corrupt media manipulation, Inside Men reveals a story of various politicians fighting for power and ego.
When Ahn Sang-goo (Lee Byung-hun) uses his media connections to help a conservative newspaper editor and congressman in a presidential campaign, he secretly makes a deal. By helping the two, he would pocket the money of the newspaper's largest sponsor.
Yet, someone is onto Ahn. Woo Jang-hoon, an ambitious prosecutor, sees something fishy with Ahn. Knowing that exposing this scandal could make him rise to the top fast, he investigates Sang-goo's relationship with the editor and congressman.
However, Ahn won't go down so easily. He is already plotting revenge against the budding prosecutor. The battle lines between the various parties for power, revenge, and success are soon drawn.
When a gang offers the two kids a job, they immediately jump on it. Yet, during one of their jobs, they become separated when trying to break up a political demonstration.
One of the lead stars, Lee Min-ho, is mega-popular within Asia. While it is easy to dismiss him as "just another pretty boy", he does a convincing job as a gangster on the rise. Veteran Kim Rae-won also does a great job selling the rivalry and becoming a gangster to be reckoned with.
The film opens with a mother holding a bloody knife to her daughter's throat, Il-yeong. The viewer immediately wonders "what the hell is going on"?
Going back in time to 1996, a beggar finds a newborn girl in a subway coin locker in Incheon. The beggar names the girl Il-yeong, after the locker number "10" that she was found in.
She lives with the homeless community until she is eight, yet is soon picked up by a corrupt cop named Tak. The cop passes Il-yeong to her adoptive mother, whom everyone calls " mom ".
Her new adoptive mom is not just any mom with a kind heart and room for one more. She's actually a female mob boss. Sensing potential in her new daughter, " mom " teaches the innocent Il-yeong the tools of being a crime lord. She learns how to beg convincingly, loan shark, forging ID cards, and making debtors pay up, which includes murder if need be.
Yet, when Il-yeong meets a son of a debtor, Seok-hyeon, she soon has a change of heart to kill his father to collect his debt.
Detective Choi Chang-sik's (Son Hyun-joo) career is on the rise. About to be promoted to captain, he just attended an award ceremony that makes his promotion a foregone conclusion.
Life looks good for detective Choi until one fateful night.
During his celebration party, he has some drinks with his team. Seeing how it's getting late, he hails a taxi to go home to his family.
Yet, he soon realizes that the taxi driver is not taking him home. After telling the taxi driver to stop, the driver instead takes him to a secluded mountain.
Once the car stops, the cab driver takes out a knife and attempts to kill Detective Choi. After a life-and-death struggle, Choi kills the taxi driver in self-defense.
However, Choi knows that being involved in a murder, even in self-defense, would seriously damage his career. As he flees the scene without reporting his fight to the police, someone was watching the entire scene unfold.
To add to Choi's troubles, the taxi driver's body is found attached to a crane in Seoul the next day. With this new murder case being the talk of the nation, Choi knows he's in trouble.
Just from one night, Choi's life is turned upside down.
He is now confronted with a life-changing decision. Does he tell the truth to his own team? Or does he cover up the very crime scene he was involved in?
As many of you can attest, the workplace can be filled with petty politics, backstabbing, and stress. The gore-thriller, "The Office", shows this dark side of working for the "man/woman".
When salaryman Kim Byeong-gook (Bae Sung-woo) comes back home, his family does not notice anything unusual at first. As he pulls out a hammer, they notice it's a bit odd, but not really a big deal.
Until he slaughters his entire family, including his disabled son.
In turn, the police immediately start looking for him.
Detective Choi Jong-hoon (Park Sung-woong) and his team check into Cheil, a food company, to question Byeong-gook's co-workers at Sales Team 2. Choi rose through the ranks and became one of the managers in his section.
At first, his co-workers agree to tell the police as little as possible. His co-workers all vouch that Choi was a dependable and hard-worker. Yet, Detective Choi soon catches on that he was not well-liked within his division.
As the film delves deeper into what happened, the viewer witness the nastiness of office politics, gossip, overwork, and bullying behind the scenes, the very things that drove Choi into madness.
If you've seen these films, what's your take on them? And which Korean films in 2015 would you recommend?
If you enjoyed the list above and want to see our full take on Korean films, check out our Korean movies of 2015 list.
And for Japanese film fans, take a look at our Japanese films of 2015.
Jason Yu is a media journalist living in Seoul, Korea, covering the K-pop and movies industry. He runs Asian Filmist, a site all about Asian movies. For news and updates on film movies straight from Seoul, also check out their Facebook page.
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"[Asian Filmist Guest Post List] 5 Korean movies to watch from 2015"
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