Tag Archives: The Chaser (2008)

South Korean cinema influences

Today, I’m very happy to welcome Chris Irvin to Pulp Curry.

Chris is a short story writer, one of the editors of the great short fiction site, Shotgun Honey, and the author of the recently released novella, Federales. Federales is  about a Mexican federal agent, drugs, and politics. It’s on my to-read list and I’m pretty certain it should be on yours, too.

Chris wanted to write about how South Korean crime cinema has influenced his own crime writing. Welcome Chris.

And by the way, if you are interested in winning a copy of the Federales e-book, just leave a comment on this post. I’ll pick a winner from among them a little later in the week.

fullsizephoto254644Perhaps like many fans of South Korean (Korean) Cinema, I was first introduced through Park Chan Wook’s Oldboy (2003), a brutal revenge tale adapted from a Japanese manga.

Revenge is central to many Korean thrillers Oldboy, Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (2005) Sympathy For Mr Vengeance (2002), I Saw the Devil (2010), Bittersweet Life (2005), etc.

But take a step back and look at the common themes that set Korean films apart from their American cousins, and what I find inspiring and influential to my writing.

I find many themes and layers of Korean cinema to be fascinating, especially those informed/influenced by Korean history/society, but for the sake of brevity I’ll focus on three:

The Dysfunctional Family – The dysfunctional family bands together to defeat the foreign menace and overcome its own natural flaws.… Read more

The Yellow Sea

South Korea seems to be leading the pack at the moment in terms of knocking out top-notch crime movies that are not afraid to play with genres. Take for example, The Yellow Sea, released in 2010.

This 156-minute film starts off as a tightly plotted and gritty neo noir, transforming half way through into a blood soaked chase/revenge movie. Topping it off is a big dollop of social realism about the plight of Chinese of Korean decent or the Joseonjok.

The Yellow Sea begins in Yanji, a city in the Chinese region between North Korea and Russia. It’s your standard Chinese industrial town, endless rows of anonymous apartment blocks swathed in low hanging haze.

Gu-Nam is a Joseonjok taxi driver whose life is rapidly disintegrating. He’s heard nothing from his wife since she left to work in Seoul six months earlier. Gu-Nam strongly suspects he is being cuckolded and has drunken dreams about her sleeping with other men. More seriously, he’s racked up 60,000 Yuan in mah-jong gambling debts to a fearsome local gangster and people trafficker, Myun-Ga.

Myun-Ga offers to wipe the debt if Gu-Nam agrees to go to Seoul and kill a man. It’s a chance for Gu-Nam to start again. There’s also the lure of being able to search for his missing wife.… Read more