Thursday, August 5, 2010

My Favorite K-Movies

If you have been associating fireflies and paper windmills with love and romance, chances are you’ve watched too much Korean movies! Like I do.

Flashback from August 2003: I remember one rainy day when I patiently wait at Jollibee in SM Manila to meet an eBayer (ooops I forgot her name) selling K-movie VCDs. Yes, it was still VCD not DVD! That day she handed me the following: My Sassy Girl, My Tutor Friend, and Ditto. From then on, my love for K-movies begins...

I enjoyed watching K-movies even before MySoju, Crunchyroll, and YouTube were launched!

I find K-movies (K-dramas too) to have a very simple yet intriguing plot, with surprising twists, lovely scenes, and unforgettable soundtracks. I remember when I watched movie after movie, I just can't get enough of it! It is also quite interesting how Koreans show how they love their own. In fact, in the span of 10 years (from 1999-2009), it was only LOTR: The Two Towers (2002) and Avatar (2009) to beat the box-office gross sales over their local movies. Surprisingly, not even Harry Potter or Shrek have made it!

Anyway, this post is to share with you my top K-movies from 1999-2009. I chose one movie per year, and believe me, this wasn't easy! *LOL*

Ok, here you go..
1999 - Happy End

I saw this movie just recently, and contrary to its title, this is definitely not a happy end. Just a heads up, this is sexually explicit and there's one brutal scene, which haunted me for three days (I can't sleep.. really!) I find this movie disturbing yet recommendable.

It revolves around the story of Bora, a successful career woman who became involved with her ex-lover, Kim. Seo is Bora's husband, who has lost his job, leaving Bora as the family's sole breadwinner. It's unclear if Bora is with Kim just for the sex or for the passion, both of which Seo seems incapable of giving. But it seems that the jobless Seo hasn't been just wandering around parks and reading romance novels as first thought, he knows something is going on, and he's collecting evidence.

Other 1999 movies worth watching: Shiri, Memento Mori, Calla, White Valentine

2000 - Ditto

It's a battle between this film and Il Mare, both have a time travel plot, but I chose Ditto because this is the first Korean movie that I saw, and just because the 2-year difference in Il Mare doesn't appeal much to me, haha! or maybe because I love Kim Ha Neul more than Jeon Ji Hyeon. :)

This film is about two people separated in time and somehow they were able to talk to each other using an amateur radio. The people in question are two students in the same school, one in 1979, the other in 2000.

Other 2000 movies worth watching: Il Mare, Joint Security Area, Barking Dogs Never Bite

2001 - My Sassy Girl

This is the second K-movie I've watched, but the first one that got me into watching more! I think every K-movie addicts out there will agree that My Sassy Girl will always be in your best movies list. Admit it, we don't just love the movie, but the soundtrack as well. Who would ever forget the song I Believe, that even has a Tagalog version. I remember when my K-movie noob friends would ask me what to watch, I would tell them.. "You better start with My Sassy Girl".

The story begins with Gyeon-woo who chanced up meeting a drunk girl (Sassy Girl) on the train that changes his life. Interesting fact, My Sassy Girl was said to be based on a true story. Sweet! And it remains the best-selling Korean DVD ever produced.

Other 2001 movies worth watching: My Wife is a Gangster, Hi Dharma, Volcano High

2002 - Sex is Zero

Again, I am torn between this or Wet Dreams, but I guess Ha Jiwon wins it so I chose Sex is Zero!

The story focuses on Eun-shik, who returns from his obligatory military service to enroll at the university. After joining the Power Man Club, he becomes acquainted with the women in the aerobics club who share the same gym. Though seldom on purpose, he finds himself entangled in numerous outrageous and embarrassing situations, all the while falling deeper in love with the most popular woman on the aerobics team. Interesting fact, this film was released on the same day as Harry Potter: The Chamber of Secrets, and sold as many tickets as Harry Potter and earned more than $20 million in Korea alone.

Other 2002 movies worth watching: Wet Dreams, Marriage is a Crazy Thing, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Lovers Concerto

2003 - My Tutor Friend

Kim Ha Neul is love! I have watched a lot of K-movies in 2003, but this one stands out (making The Classic and Untold Scandal in the second and third place, respectively). Maybe because My Tutor Friend is really is a feel-good movie, and for me this is equally charming as My Sassy Girl. I also liked Kwon Sang Woo here! :)

The film is based on a boy and girl who are the same age. Second year university student Soo-wan, who came from a poor family which owns a fried chicken shop, works as a private tutor to cover her expenses. One day she is assigned to tutor Ji-hoon, a high school boy from a rich family who cares more about his gangster business than his studies. Their lessons begin with many conflicts but end with love.

Other 2003 movies worth watching: The Classic, Untold Scandal, Madeleine,, The Uninvited, Crazy First Love, A Tale of Two Sisters, Acacia, Oh Happy Day, Singles, Oldboy

2004 - My Little Bride

If I were to choose only one K-movie in this list that I could watch all over again, it would be this! Until now I really can’t get over this movie.. plus the fact that I am so in love (at that time) with Kim Rae Won, whom I will forever call Sangmin. I can still remember how KRW looked at the end of this movie, and the way he hugged Moon Geun Young! :)

The story is about an arranged marriage between a new teacher (Sangmin) and a student (Boeun). Their undercover married life begins, and she pretends that she doesn't have a husband and begins to date her school crush, Joongwoo. Everything goes smoothly until Sangmin visits Boeun's school as a student teacher.

Other 2004 movies worth watching: Taegukgi, Windstruck, Marrying School Girl, Flying Boys, Lovely Rivals, Love so Divine, Everybody Has Secrets, He was so Cool, Too Beautiful to Lie, Spy Girl, 100 Days with Mr. Arrogant, Once Upon a Time in Highschool

2005 - She's on Duty

Now, it's Kim Sun Ah's time! Oh, and she's paired up with Gong Yoo (yeah I liked him even before he appeared in Coffee Prince).

The film deals with a boisterous undercover female cop who gets sent to an all-girl’s school in order to get close to a criminal in hideout by befriending his teenage daughter. The general set up and the fighting antics of the female cop play close resemblance to Stephen Chow’s classic Fight Back to School. This films basically amounts to less than two hours of unpredictable surprises and more laughs!

Other 2005 movies worth watching: Mister Socrates, My Girl and I, The Beast and The Beauty, April Snow, Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, Welcome to Dongmakgol, Innocent Steps, A Bittersweet Life, She's on Duty, My Boyfriend is Type B, Wet Dreams 2, Daddy Long Legs, The Art of Seduction

2006 - 200 Pounds Beauty

Maria, Ave Maria! This movie's soundtrack kept playing on my mind when I finished watching it, well I've watched this a lot of times and even enjoyed its Tagalog version in Cinema One. Oh, I also liked the songs Miss You Much and Beautiful Girl.

Ok, enough for the soundtrack. The story is about Hanna, an overweight phone sex employee/secret vocalist for Ammy, a pop singer. Hannah suffers from having extremely poor self-esteem, as she has been ignored because of her appearance. At last, she makes the decision of a lifetime to have full-body plastic surgery. She then created her new identity as a Korean-American named Jenny.

Other 2006 movies worth watching: Im A Cyborg, but that's OK, My Wife is a Gangster 3, The Restless, Who Slept With Her?, Arang, Fly Daddy Fly, Dirty Carnival, My Scary Girl, Almost Love, Daisy, A Millionaire's First Love

2007 - Venus and Mars

I watched this only because I liked Kim Tae Hee, but I was surprised to like the movie as well. This is the ultimate battle of the sexes! :)

Arguing about everything. This is mostly how Ji-na and Sang-min spend their time together. But they decide to overcome their clashing characters and vow for forever love. However, their vow is short-lived and their life of “happily ever-after” seems to be an unattainable fairy tale. Sang-min is the nation’s number one indifferent husband. Although unintended, he always seems to aggravate his wife, Ji-na. After putting up with Sang-min’s distasteful attitude, she has become a scrawny, tense, and violent wife. While their grudges against one another are still left unhandled, they decide to split up. They clash on every issue and a psychological warfare begins. What began as verbal fights lead on to physical fight and they fight as if they are going to kill each other. There’s no room for patience and understanding to these two ex-lovers. They enter a merciless face-off. A fight leads on to another then another and the cycle continues.

This is the craziest movie in this list! If you want to cry and laugh at the same time, go ahead and watch this! :)

Other 2007 movies worth watching: Le Grand Chef, Hwang Jin Yi, Highway Star, Miss Gold Digger, My Tutor Friend 2

2008 - Crush and Blush

How can I end this post without Gong Hyo Jin on the list?! I totally loved her way back from Sangdoo Let's Go to School, and so she really deserved a place here :)

a.k.a. Miss Carrot - this film is a black, harsh though surprisingly moving anti-romantic comedy, it stands head and shoulders above the hordes of cutesy pieces of soulless candy which crowd cinema screens.

Yang Mi-sook is an unpopular and frumpy high school Russian teacher, who has a habit of going red in the face. For ten years she has been harbouring a crush on Seo Jong-cheol, her former teacher and now colleague, though he is more interested in pretty new teacher Lee Yoo-ri. Mi-sook tries to put a halt to this blossoming romance, forming an unlikely alliance with Jong-cheol's daughter, Jong-hee.

For me, it's a love it or hate it kind of movie. Many find the story strange and nonsense (really), maybe because there was so much unnecessary scenes that made the story so confusing, but I still liked it. If one would really analyze it, the basic premise would be Yang Mi-sook's relationship with Jong-hee, both losers and out of control, but they ended up winners with each other. Kinda liked their team up, hope to see them both again in another movie, though hopefully not this pathetic.*LOL* :)

Other 2008 movies worth watching: Hello School Girl, A Frozen Flower, Speedy Scandal

2009 - The Naked Kitchen

Honestly, I haven't watched enough 2009 K-movies so I don't have much to compare this with, but I really liked this movie, plus Shin Min-Ah is really pleasant to watch. :)

The story begins with Mo-rae and Sang-in’s one-year wedding anniversary. After a busy morning preparing for the celebration, Mo-rae goes to an art gallery to find a gift for Sang-in. At the gallery, she meets a complete stranger and the two unexpectedly have sex. Mo-rae returns home feeling anxious and guilty about the incident and cannot help but confess it to Sang-in. That night, a visitor arrives at their house; Du-rae, who came from Paris to help Sang-in with his new business. To Mo-rae’s shock, he is the man from the gallery. He temporarily lives with the couple in their house and a risky love triangle begins.

Other 2009 movies worth watching: Private Eye, Handphone, Thirst, Like You Know It All, Paju

There you have it :) I still don't have a 2010 K-movie favorite because I haven't watched any yet. Maybe I should watch one soon, hehe. I will also post my favorite K-Dramas here. :)

How about you, have you watched any from my list? What are your favorite K-movies? I'd love to hear from you.

Good night, all!


Note: Photos above are promotional posters of each movie in this list. I do not own any of it.
Sources: and


  1. Windstruck, 2004 - I also liked this but I chose only one per year and 'My Little Bride' is the best ~ at least for me. Hehe.


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