4 Best Movies to Watch by Jang Hye-jin

Staff & contributors

, 2011

Poetry is a masterpiece from one of South Korea's most cherished movie directors, Lee Chang-dong. The simple story follows the everyday life of a grandmother, Mija, who works as a caretaker for a living. To fill her inner emptiness, she decides to join a poetry club with other grandmothers in her neighborhood. Meanwhile, as Mija deals with her own financial and health problems, she struggles to connect with her teenage grandson — only to find out that he is keeping a dark secret. If you are familiar with Lee Chang-dong works, then you know that the movie will tug at your heartstrings. But if you aren't, prepare to be moved.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Ahn Nae-sang, Chang Hyae-jin, Eun-yeong Kim, Hee-ra Kim, Jang Hye-jin, Jeong-hie Yun, Kim Eun-yeong, Kim Gye-sun, Kim Hee-ra, Kim Hye-jung, Kim Ja-young, Kim Jong-goo, Kim Nam-jin, Kwon Hyuk-soo, Lee Da-wit, Min Bok-gi, Nam Joong-gyu, Park Hyun-woo, Park Myung-shin, Yoon Jeong-hee

Director: Chang-dong Lee, Lee Chang-dong

Rating: TV-PG

The World of Us is a vibrant, colourful movie that follows the story of Lee Sun, a shy and sweet fifth grader who meets Ji Ah, a new girl in town. The movie is innocent, light and relatable, centered around two new friends playing in the summertime. But behind its vibrant colors, there is a very realistic commentary on how children can grow up to realise they are not of equal wealth and social status. The World of Us is not only about the fun of childhood, but also shows its bitterness. It perfectly captures the feeling of being left out by the ones who are supposed to be our friends. The movie shows that children can feel pain and jealousy toward others too, and it encapsulates the highs and lows of being young in the best way possible.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Choi Soo-in, Jang Hye-jin, Lee Seo-yeon, Ri Woo-jin, Seol Hye-in

Director: Yoon Ga-eun

For better or worse, death strikes us all, fast and unexpectedly. It’s tough enough if the death is caused by ill health or accidents, but when premeditated by another person– it can be easy to lose faith in a higher power. Secret Sunshine depicts a grieving mother trying to start a new life in the countryside, though certain events make it tough to fit in. There’s a well-meaning, long-term bachelor who’s interested in her, though she’s not ready to reciprocate, and there’s townsfolk that would like to invite her to their church, though she’s reluctant to join. There’s curious, gossipy neighbors ready to comment on her every action. Secret Sunshine reveals a darker layer to the countryside towns we retreat to to cope, but it also examines the ways we grieve, cope, and deal with forgiveness, in a community that would prioritize itself at the expense of what's morally right.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Cha Mi-kyeong, Do-yeon Jeon, Go Seo-hee, Jang Hye-jin, Jeon Do-yeon, Jo Young-jin, Kang-ho Song, Kim Jong-soo, Kim Mee-kyeong, Kim Mi-hyang, Kim Min-jae, Kim Yeong-jae, Kim Young-jae, Ko Seo-hie, Lee Dong-yong, Lee Hee-jun, Lee Sung-min, Lee Yoon-hee, Mi-kyung Kim, Oh Man-seok, Park Myeong-shin, Park Myung-shin, Seon Jeong-yeop, Seon Jung-yeop, Song Kang-ho, Yeom Hye-ran, Yeong-jin Jo

Director: Chang-dong Lee, Lee Chang-dong

Rating: Not Rated, NR

There are some connections that transcend definition, becoming more important and fundamental to one’s life than that of a romantic relationship. Not many people are lucky to have experienced it, but nevertheless it’s true. Soulmate is the Korean adaptation of the 2016 Chinese directorial debut, and while it’s faithful to the source material, there’s a focus to this rendition that elevates the film, with a greater emphasis on the titular soulmates rather than the boy that tore them apart. Because of this, Soulmate is much more emotionally devastating, neatly shifting some character revelations in order to grant the weight each moment deserves.

Genre: Drama, Romance

Actor: Byeon Woo-seok, Heo Ji-na, Hyun Bong-sik, Jang Hye-jin, Jeon So-nee, Kang Mal-geum, Kim Da-mi, Lee Suk-hyeong, Nam Yoon-su, Oh Min-ae, Park Choong-seon, Park Seong-yeon

Director: Min Yong-keun

Rating: NR