South Korean Cinema has changed throughout the decades. With the rise of Hallyu, South Korean cinema has gained more international success than before. There are many well-known Korean movies such as Parasite (2019), Oldboy (2003), Train to Busan (2016), and many more that have made a mark in the South Korean film industry. Each South Korean film’s production value has changed a lot in terms of cinematography, editing, and screenwriting. 

When did South Korean cinema start? What changed? Well, the history of South Korean Cinema is separated by 5 time periods, including Liberation and war (1945-1953), Golden age (1955-1972), Censorship & propaganda (1973-1979), Recovery (1980-1996), and Renaissance (1997-present).

Parasite (2019)

Liberation and war (1945-1953)

With Korea’s liberation from the Japanese rule, Korea went through many changes, especially South Korean cinema. During this era in the late 1940s and early 1950s, many films covered freedom’s central theme. However, during the Korean War (1950-195), movies were not being produced, and most of them were lost. Viva Freedom! (1946) is one of the most notable films during this era because it depicted the Korean independence movement.

Check out Viva Freedom! (1946):

Golden Age (1945-1953)

After the Korean War, South Korea produced many films that mostly consist of melodramas. This era is known as the golden age because 111 movies were produced, and there weren’t many censorships from the Korean government. Chunhyang-jeon (1955), directed by Lee Kyu-hwan, tells a traditional Korean story that attracted most of the population to watch in theaters. The Housemaid (1960), Obaltan (1961), The Coachman (1961) are considered some of the best South Korean films ever made in history.

Chun-hyang Jeon (1955):

Censorship & propaganda (1973-1979)

South Korean government placed strict censorship laws during the 1970s, making it hard for filmmakers to make movies about any genre. The government rejected any movie that goes against their ideals. Yeong-ja’s Heydays (1975) and Winter Woman (1977) were the most popular movies during this era.

I Am Really Sorry (1976):

Recovery (1980-1996)

During the recovery era, the South Korean government eased up on censorship laws and the film industry’s control. The government implicated the “The Motion Picture of Law of 1984,” which allowed filmmakers to produce films. South Korean cinema started to gain international success. Im Kwon-taek was the first Korean director to have his own films screened at European film festivals. The film Marriage Story (1992), directed by Kim Ui-Seok, changed the film industry by introducing chaebols to the film industry.

Mandala (1981):

Renaissance (1997-present)

With the rise of Hallyu, South Korea Cinema gained more international success with movies like Oldboy (2003), The Host (2006), and more recent Parasite (2019). There were also a lot of blockbusters films that were popular amongst such as Joint Security Area (2000), My Sassy Girl (2001), Friend (2001), and many more. The movie Parasite (2019), directed by Bong Joon-ho, was the first-ever Korean film to win the Best Picture at the Oscar. It was a historic moment in the South Korean film industry.

My Sassy Girl (2001):

It is interesting to see how much South Korean cinema has changed over the past decade. You can check out the Korean Film Archive website to learn more about South Korean cinema history.

Do you have a favorite South Korean film? Let us know down in the comments below! 


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