South Korea's film directors, like its pop stars, have been trying for years to break out of their country's competitive but small market and into the West. Just as Korean music finally broke through last year with Psy's "Gangnam Style," this might be the year that Korean directors take over Hollywood.
Three of South Korea's top directors are this year releasing, and in one case already have released, their first English-language films, often featuring top-name American actors (or Anglophones who pose as Americans), the New York Times noted in a story this weekend. The directors have long had "fan bases" in Hollywood eager to pull them into the U.S. market, the Times says, explaining that American producers appreciate that Korean directors' "style and restraint go hand in hand with a taste for visceral, often bloody stories in popular categories like horror and crime."
Will next year's Oscars be dominated by Korean-directed films, perhaps featuring a K-Pop musical intermission? Not for me to say, but here are trailers and synopses (via IMDB) for the forthcoming American films made by each of the three Korean directors.
Park Chan-wook: "Stoker"
After India's father dies, her Uncle Charlie, who she never knew existed, comes to live with her and her unstable mother. She comes to suspect this mysterious, charming man has ulterior motives and becomes increasingly infatuated with him.
Kim Ji-wood: "Last Stand"
The leader of a drug cartel busts out of a courthouse and speeds to the Mexican border, where the only thing in his path is a sheriff and his inexperienced staff.
Bong Joon-ho: "Snowpiercer"
After a failed experiment to stop global warming, an Ice Age kills off all life on the planet except for the inhabitants of the Snow Piercer, a train that travels around the globe and is powered by a sacred perpetual-motion engine. A class system evolves on the train but a revolution brews.
There's no trailer for "Snowpiercer" yet, so here instead is a video from Bong Joon-ho's 2006 hit film "The Host," a monster movie that is also sort of about the U.S. military bases in South Korea, which are (unsurprisingly) a point of political controversy there.