The greatest Korean film of all time, as selected by local industry experts

Posted on : 2024-06-06 10:41 KST Modified on : 2024-06-06 10:41 KST
The Korean Film Archive released a new edition of its top 100 Korean films, as voted on by industry experts
Still from Kim Ki-young's “The Housemaid.” (courtesy of KOFA)
Still from Kim Ki-young's “The Housemaid.” (courtesy of KOFA)

“The Housemaid,” the 1960 film directed by Kim Ki-young (1919–1998) and starring Kim Jin-kyu and Lee Eun-shim, has been selected by film experts as the greatest Korean movie of all time. 

The domestic thriller topped the 100 Korean Films list released by the Korean Film Archive on May 31. The films on the list were selected by a jury of 240 figures in the film industry, including academics, journalists, and artists. 

This is the third edition of the list the Korean Film Archive has released, following previous editions in 2006 and 2013. “The Housemaid” also occupied the first-place spot on the 2013 list. 

Second on the list was “Memories of Murder,” the 2003 film directed by Bong Joon-ho, up from seventh place on the 2013 list. Third place was “Parasite” (2019), also directed by Bong and a new addition to the list. 

Just like Bong, director Park Chan-wook also had two films in the top ten: “Old Boy” (2003) in fifth place and “Decision to Leave” (2022) in eighth place. 

Park had seven entries in 100 Korean Films — the two mentioned above, as well as “Joint Security Area” (2000), “Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance” (2002), “Lady Vengeance” (2005), “Thirst” (2009), and “The Handmaiden” (2016) — making him the most-represented filmmaker on the list. 

After Park, the directors with the most listed films were Im Kwon-taek with six films; Lee Man-hee and Lee Chang-dong with five films each; and Kim Ki-young, Bae Chang-ho, and Bong Joon-ho with four films each. 

The actors who appeared the most in 100 Korean Films were Song Kang-ho and Ahn Sung-ki, both of whom starred in 19 of the films. Bae Doo-na also starred in four films on the list, more than any other female actor. 

Female directors were better represented in this year’s compilation of Korean films. In 2013, the only film by a female director that made the list was “The Murmuring,” the 1995 documentary by Byun Young-joo. But a total of nine films by female directors were featured on this year’s list, including “The Widow” (1995) by Park Nam-ok; “Waikiki Brothers” (2001) by Lim Soon-rye; and “A Girl at My Door” (2013) by Jung Joo-ri. 

The Korean Film Archive will be releasing 100 Korean Films in book format next month, including reviews and commentary on the selected films. 

The top 10 films on the list of 100 Korean films provided by the Korean Film Archive appear below. 

1. “The Housemaid” (1960), directed by Kim Ki-young 

2. “Memories of Murder” (2003), directed by Bong Joon-ho 

3. “Parasite” (2019), directed by Bong Joon-ho 

4. “Aimless Bullet” (1961), directed by Yu Hyun-mok 

5. “Old Boy” (2003), directed by Park Chan-wook 

6. “The March of Fools” (1975), directed by Ha Gil-jong 

7. “Poetry” (2010), directed by Lee Chang-dong 

8. “Decision to Leave” (2022), directed by Park Chan-wook, and “Christmas in August” (1998), directed by Hur Jin-ho 

10. “The Day a Pig Fell Into a Well” (1996), directed by Hong Sang-soo 

By Kim Eun-hyoung, senior staff writer 

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