Watching movies and television from a specific country provides viewers with a window into the nation’s culture. South Korean entertainment continues to gain popularity with titles like “Parasite” and “Squid Games” teaching Americans about Korean daily life.
Historically, South Korean dramas reflected the complicated feelings surrounding the Korean War. Films like “Obaltan” made in the 1960s discussed topics that weren’t widely discussed at the time, such as the prevalence of violence, poverty, and post-traumatic stress disorder among the population as causes of war.
Between the 1960s and 1980s, the South Korean government heavily censored the entertainment industry. In the late 1980s, the administration changed, and the country benefited from a flourishing economy. Many Korean movies created during the late 1980s reflect the newfound opportunity and wealth but, also show how Western influences were not always welcome.
In the 21st century, South Korean cinema came into its own. Titles like “My Sassy Girl” and “Train to Busan” found critical and financial success and inspired adaptations in other countries around the world. “Okja” is a particularly influential South Korean film focusing on social and animal rights in the country. The movie examines animal abuse and vegetarianism through the eyes of a young girl and a computer-generated animal and left audiences around the world with emotional takeaways.
In current Korean films, fans from other nations can see the differences between their habits and those common in South Korea. For example, respecting the elderly is deeply connected to Confucianism and is still integral to daily life in Korean culture. You might notice in Korean television shows that if a character receives an item from an elder or shakes their hand, they will use both hands as a sign of respect.
Korean entertainment also shows quirky behaviors. In South Korea, people may not care about your zodiac sign but will be interested in your blood type. Culturally, Koreans associate different blood types with specific personality traits and attributes that influence how characters behave in television and movies.
The Ten South Korean Movies You Should Watch
Things We’ve Learned About South Korea From 10 Movies
Things You Will Always Notice in Korean Shows and Movies