Watching movies and television from a specific country gives viewers a window into the culture of the nation. South Korean entertainment continues to gain popularity with titles like “Parasite” and “Squid Games” which teach 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 issues that were not much 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 thriving economy. Many Korean films created in the late 1980s reflect new opportunities and wealth, but they also show how Western influences weren’t always welcome.
In the 21st century, South Korean cinema has established itself. Titles like “My Sassy Girl” and “Train to Busan” met with 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 film examines animal abuse and vegetarianism through the eyes of a young girl and a computer-generated animal and has left audiences around the world with emotional cues.
In current Korean films, fans from other nations can see the differences between their habits and those common in South Korea. For example, respect for elders is deeply linked to Confucianism and is still an integral part of everyday life in Korean culture. You may notice on Korean TV shows that if a character receives an object from an elderly person or shakes his hand, he will use both hands as a sign of respect.
Korean entertainment also displays bizarre behavior. In South Korea, people may not care about your zodiac sign, but they will be interested in your blood type. Culturally, Koreans associate different blood groups with specific personality traits and attributes that influence the behavior of characters on television and in movies.
To know more:
The Ten South Korean Movies You Should Watch
Things we learned about South Korea from 10 films
Things you will always notice in Korean shows and movies