What Is Komsong?

I started Komsong a year ago, in June of 2016, motivated by my surprise at the number of good Korean movies I had found since moving to South Korea, over two years before, to work as an English teacher. I started at that time proactively seeking out Korean movies, and I came to see that Korean cinema is far more noteworthy, of far more value, than I had anticipated. It covers mainstream entertainments, smaller movies with arthouse appeal, and the broad, fertile ground in between—hits that found certain success in the U.S., such as the works of Bong Joon-ho and Oldboy, to local hits with little appeal to American audiences such as A New World and Memories of My Father; the fun, thoughtful, and meticulously constructed entertainments of A Hard Day, Train To Busan, or Casa Amor and the darker, more intellectual entertainments of Park Chan-wook or Na Hong-jin; the often perverse, disturbing, even reprehensible works of Kim Ki-duk or Jang Sun-woo and the works, beautiful in their humanity and honesty, of Hong Sang-soo, Lee Chang-dong, and Park Chan-ok. I once presumed I could see all the good Korean movies—maybe there were 25?—and continue today to be amazed at the frequency I find new ones and, notably, that more seem to be made each year than the one before.

I hope through Komsong (my transcription of the Korean word for “appreciation”) to bring attention to these movies I have found noteworthy, ones I wish had been brought to my attention sooner. I don’t presume that my tastes will reflect all movie fans’, or even any typical movie fans’, and that I definitively, objectively appraise each movie’s worth. Rather, I want this website to pique Westerners’ interest in certain movies, movies most often neglected by Western, or at least American, marketing and distribution. It has taken living in a foreign country for me to see how easily Americans end up cut off from great international films, and living in South Korea specifically for me to see that the country has even a decent, let alone first-rate, movie industry. It is the goal of this website for Western movie fans to find and watch Korean movies they otherwise wouldn’t have, perhaps think about them in ways they otherwise wouldn’t, and, ideally, start a conversation, spread the word, elevate the place of these movies in Western movie discussion.

One thought on “What Is Komsong?”

  1. Train to Busan! The zombie movie, right? So good. Another movie a friend showed me was also very well done, but as you mentioned also somewhat disturbing. A mother framed for the murder of a child, not sure if it was famous there. But I have very fond memories of my time near Suwon, back in 2005. If you haven’t already, get yourself on an army base so you can shop in the commisary. Just need to strike up a friendship with someone stationed there so you can get entry.
    Enjoy, Sungsanim!

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