As New Film Parasite Becomes A Raging Success, We Look At What Else Korean Arts Has To Offer

Including, film, music, books and TV.

Bong Joon Ho

by Maureen McKendry |
Updated on

As the world watched a joyous crowd of Koreans gather on the Oscar stage on Sunday it felt like a turning point in cinematic history. For the first time ever the Best Picture award had been won by a non English language film, Parasite, a film which swept the boards at the ceremony taking home six Oscars in total. It came as little surprise that the historic moment was achieved by a film from South Korea, a country which has spent the last ten years building up a rich cultural heritage. The rise in global popularity of Korean culture is widely referred to as the "Korean wave" and at the Oscars on Sunday it was clear the wave had well and truly hit.

Following Parasite's success, attention has been focused on the country's excellent film industry, but Korea has also spent the last ten years creating music, literature and television that's just as worthy of attention. Here are our picks.

DISCOVER: Korean Culture In Film, Music, Books And TV Shows


DISCOVER: Korean Culture In Film, Music, Books And TV Shows

FILM - Memories Of Murder1 of 10
CREDIT: Memories Of Murder

FILM - Memories Of Murder

Memories Of Murder is Parasite director Bong Joon Ho's second film and his first with actor Song Kang Ho who later starred in his films The Host, Snowpiercer and Parasite. The 2003 movie tells the true story of Korea's first serial murderer and includes Bong Joon Ho's characteristic touches later seen in Parasite: stunning cinematography, an inspired performance from Song Kang Ho and a tense storyline mixed with dark humour.

FILM - Train To Busan2 of 10
CREDIT: Train To Busan

FILM - Train To Busan

Train To Busan takes the classic zombie genre and delivers a thrilling reinterpretation; never has a train journey been so terrifying. The doomed train speeding through Korea during the midst of a zombie outbreak contains a host of familiar characters: the single dad and his young daughter, the high school couple in the flushes of first love, the greedy banker out to save himself. The 2016 film will have you on the edge of your seat rooting for the good guys (with your hands over your eyes).

FILM - Oldboy3 of 10

FILM - Oldboy

Oldboy is Korea's best known film (perhaps now overtaken by Parasite) and was picked by Quentin Tarantino to receive the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival in 2004. Such was its popularity, Spike Lee directed an English language version of it in 2013. The original movie tells the gripping (and very violent) story of a man on a quest for vengeance after being imprisoned in a cell for 15 years without knowing his captive or their motives.

MUSIC - BTS4 of 10


K-Pop boyband BTS are a worldwide phenomenon. They played two sell out shows in Wembley Stadium last year, the first of which sold out in 15 minutes. They generate $3.6bn a year for the South Korean economy - one in 13 tourists cite BTS as the main motivation for their visit. They've topped the US Billboard album charts three times in a single year, only equalled by The Beatles. In January they become the first K-Pop band to perform at the Grammys. Their music is distinctly pop but delivered flawlessly; a catchy mix of rap, ballads and funk. Their new album due out on 21st February is sure to continue to smash records.

MUSIC - Blackpink5 of 10
CREDIT: MUSIC - Blackpink

MUSIC - Blackpink

Last year girl band Black Pink became the first K-Pop act to perform at Coachella. The YouTube video for their single Ddu-Du Ddu-Du hit one billion views and their single Kill This Love was played on the site 100 million times in two days, faster than any other music video in the site's history. Their crossover to mainstream British pop was cemented when they collaborated with Dua Lipa on the track Kiss And Make Up.

MUSIC - Peggy Gou6 of 10

MUSIC - Peggy Gou

If K-Pop isn't your scene, check out Peggy Gou, a house DJ who released her first mix album DJ-Kicks: Peggy Gou to critical acclaim last year. Named by Forbes as one of the Asian leaders, pioneers and entrepreneurs under age 30, she has her own record label and fashion label. She also has a droolworthy Instagram account which has 1.4 million followers hooked on her uber hip style, glam travels and epic club nights.

BOOKS - The Vegetarian7 of 10
CREDIT: BOOKS - The Vegetarian

BOOKS - The Vegetarian

The Vegetarian by Han Kang tells the story of Yeong-hye, a graphic artist and home-maker whose decision to stop eating meat creates devastating consequences. In 2016 it won the International Man Booker prize and was named by Time magazine as one of the best books of the year.

BOOKS - Please Look After Mom8 of 10
CREDIT: BOOKS - Please Look After Mom

BOOKS - Please Look After Mom

Please Look After Mom written by Kyung-Sook Shin tells the story of a family on a desperate search for their aging mother who went missing in the Seoul subway. It sold a million copies within ten months, was adapted as a stage play and musical, and counts Oprah as a fan.

TV SHOWS - Strong Girl Bong-Soon9 of 10
CREDIT: TV SHOWS - Strong Girl Bong-Soon

TV SHOWS - Strong Girl Bong-Soon

Craving a tv show with a strong female lead character? Check out Strong Girl Bong-Soon which tells the story of a sassy girl with superhuman strength which can only be used for good. Expect good old fashioned fighting of injustice with two pining love interests looking on. Strong Girl Bong-Soon is available to stream on Netflix which makes it the perfect light hearted show to binge watch.

TV SHOWS - Signal10 of 10

TV SHOWS - Signal

Signal is a crime drama which has swept the board at Korean tv award shows and would appeal to those who loved CSI and Law & Order. It centres around a mysterious walkie talkie which connects a detective from 1986 to a criminal profiler in the present allowing them to work together to solve cold cases. Signal is also available to stream on Netflix.

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