5 Amazing Korean Films That Shined At The Cannes Film Festival

As the South Korean film industry continues to expand, they keep getting more attention for their work and amazing art with films. As a matter of fact, several South Korean filmmakers made their way to the 70th Cannes Film Festival this year. Though they did not bring back the top awards of the festival, multiple South Korean films caught viewers’ attention and didn’t fail to amaze them during the festival.

Check out these lucky films that made it to Cannes this year!


1- “Merciless”

Just as the title implies, trust and betrayal mean nothing to the characters in this film. The ultimate moral of this film is “Don’t trust anyone.” The film received praises for the unpredictable screenwriting and awesome directing.

Directed by Byun Sung Hyun, this film tells the story of an inmate leader Jae Ho (Sol Kyung Go) who wants to dominate and expand his territory upon his release from jail. He becomes friends with a prisoner named Hyun Soo (Im Si Wan) who is actually an undercover cop.

Though Im Si Wan started his career as a member of Kpop boy group ZE:A, he has transitioned beautifully from a Kpop sensation to mature actor.

Sol Kyul Go is one of the best actors of his generation, as well as one of the most versatile actors in South Korea, bagging multiple awards for different roles he has done— “Memoir of Murder,” “Hope,” “Oasis,” and “Peppermint Candy” to name a few.

2- “OKJA”

This film drew many viewers’ attention with its science-fiction genre, but it was depicted as a remarkable, must-see screenplay. The film’s twist was lauded a work of art and resulted in a four-minute standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival.

Directed by Bong Joon Ho, who also directed the award-winning film “Memories of Murder,” the true story of Korea’s first serial murder case, as well as “The Host” and “Snowpiercer,” his first English-language science fiction film.

Okja is the Korean term for pig, and the film literally revolves around a super pig which was raised by a 10-year-old girl name Mija (Ahn Seo Hyun). The pig is taken by a bio food corporation whose ultimate motive is to use Okja as a means to revolutionize the livestock industry. Mija meets the leader of an activist group (Jake Gyllenhaal) who helps her save her best friend Okja

“Okja” is not just an ordinary pig, it is a super pig. Wondering why this super pig caught everyone’s attention? See the full trailer to find out.

3- “The Day After”

This film is directed by Hong Sang Soo, one of the most well-known directors in South Korea and even across the globe. Although some of his films did not receive commercial praise in cinemas, his works, such as the movie “Hahaha,” were internationally recognized at the Cannes Film Festival, Locarno Film Festival, Berlin International Film Festival, and Venice Film Festival.

The movie tells the story of Bongwan (Kwon Hae Hyo), a manager at a publishing house who has an affair with his employee Changsook (Kim Sae Byuk). Their relationship goes south and causes Changsook to quit her job. Areum (Kim Min Hee), an aspiring writer, takes Changsook’s position and later finds a love letter between her own husband and Changsook. The story takes a complicated twist when Haejoo, Bongwan’s wife, causes sudden chaos by mistakenly accusing Areum as the one who had an affair with her husband.

The black-and-white trailer doesn’t say much, but it draws attention to the serious conversation of two people, making the viewer very eager to know what will happen on “The Day After.”

4- “Villainess”

This film is directed by Jung Byun Gil, who is also the maker of “Confession of Murder,” which won Best Thriller in the Brussels Film Festival. The action-packed film wowed the audience and also received a standing ovation at the Cannes festival.

It tells the story of a female assassin Sook-hee (Kim Ok Bin), who was raised in Yanbian, China to learn to kill. She comes back to Korea and strikes a deal with South Korea’s Intelligence Agency— if she will serve them for 10 years, she will gain freedom. The twist comes when two men from her past, Joon Sang (Shin Ha Kyun) and Hyun Soo (Sung Joon), make a sudden appearance and force her to take revenge in order to find peace in her life.

5- “Claire’s Camera”

This is the second entry of Hong Sang Soo this year, along with “The Day After.”” It is a French-Korean drama  starring Isabelle Huppert, who has won the Best Actress award two times at the Cannes Film Festival. Hong is known for his art house films and “Claire’s Camera” is no exception to the rule.

The trailer doesn’t reveal much of the plot but the story focus on the perspective of Claire, a photographer. She believes that in every picture she captures, a simple click can make a sudden change— not just in her own life but in the other person’s life as well. In the clip, one of her notable lines state, “The only way to change things is to look at them again very slowly.”

Still curious how this film, part of such an offbeat genre, still managed to draw many viewers’ attention? Check out the trailer below!

Wow, a big round of applause to these South Korean films!  Hopefully the success of these films will allow the industry to gain even more recognition with international film critics. These films are nothing without their unique, broad, and creative directors and writers who made the films such a success in the first place. Though their budget was not as big as Hollywood movies, the directors prove that first class films are made by innovative skills. Thanks to the Cannes Film Festival for recognizing their hard work and allowing them to showcase their talent in one of the most prestigious festivals in the world!

Congratulations to these films, their cast, and crew for such an amazing job!

ging1030 is a multi-fandom fan of Kpop since 2010. She enjoys watching Asian dramas and variety shows like “Running Man.” She is an avid fan of the Song triplets and Song Joong Ki.  For her, Kdrama is life. They are her inspirations in life so she can live on and do what her heart desires!

Media: As Credited

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