South Koreans are masters in filmmaking. It goes without saying that their style in producing movies is truly unmatched. We’ve talked about our favorite Korean movies, and here, we’re putting the spotlight on Korean films that were based on real crimes that happened in the country.
Watching movies can widen people imagination, stir imagination, and allow people to have a taste of all kinds of lifestyles. But did you know that not all movies are a product of a moviemaker broad imagination for some of them are actually based on real-life. Here are some that you ‘ll never know were based on Real Stories .
1. Memories of Murder (杀人回忆)
A Bong Joon Ho(he also directed the Oscar award-winning movie Parasite) classic, Memories Of Murder is a loose iteration of another infamous rape case. From 1986 to 1991, the Hwaseong Serial Murders took place in South Korea with numerous women who were murdered and raped. Decades after, one of the suspects named Lee Chun Jae, admitted his wrongdoings and was actually astounded that he wasn’t caught sooner.
Memories of Murder takes place in small province of Korea in 1986. It tells the story of two detectives who struggle with the case of multiple young women being found rape and murdered by an unknown culprit.
2. Don’t Cry Mommy (妈妈别哭)
Don’t Cry Mommy (Korean: 돈 크라이 마미; RR: Don keurai Mami) is a 2012 South Korean crime drama film directed by Kim Yong-han. The story was about a mother’s revenge against her daughter’s rapists.
Yoo-lim, who divorced her husband and was preparing for a new start, learns that her daughter, Eun-ah, got raped by boys at school. However, they will not be punished because they are minors. Eun-ah kills herself, and Yoo-lim seeks revenge.
3. The Attoryney (辩护人)
The Attorney (Korean: 변호인; RR: Byeonhoin) is a 2013 South Korean courtroom drama film directed and co-written by Yang Woo-suk in his directorial debut. With 11,375,954 tickets sold and a revenue of ₩82.9 billion, The Attorney became the 15th-best-selling Korean film of all time and the second-highest-grossing Korean film of 2013.
As the name of the film tells, The Attorney is about a tax attorney who becomes the defense lawyer for a group of young men against the government.
It was inspired by the real-life “Burim case” of 1981 when, during the authoritarian Chun Doo-hwan regime, 22 students, teachers and office workers who belonged to a book club were arrested without warrants on fabricated charges that they were North Korea sympathizers. Roh Moo-hyun, then a tax lawyer from Busan, formed a legal team with his allies, including Moon Jae-in and Kim Kwang-il, to defend the arrested individuals against the government. After the case, Roh became an influential human rights lawyer throughout the 1980s; he later entered politics and became the 16th president of South Korea. Later, Moon Jae-in also became the 19th president of South Korea.
4. Silenced (熔炉)
Adapted from the Gong Ji Young novel of the same name, Gong Yoo plays the role of Kang In Ho, a new employee in a boarding school for deaf students. Throughout his stay, he discovers that the children are actually victims of sexual abuse for five years by criminals disguised as teachers. In an article by The Korea Herald, the Inhwa School case was given an update after the movie’s release: “Half of the accused were freed immediately since their cases’ statutes of limitations had expired. The local court sentenced the headmaster, the son of the school founder, to a five-year term in prison, and four others received relatively heavy penalties.”
Silenced tells a story of a school for the hearing-impaired where young deaf students were sexually assaulted by the faculty members. Together with the human rights activist, Gang-In-ho uncovers the abuse and puts a stop to it.
5. Hope (素媛)
This South Korean film Hope, also known as Wish, is about a young girl living an idyllic life with her working class parents. One date, while on her way to school, So-won, is kidnapped, beaten, and raped by a male stranger and was left for death. Fortunately, she survives. Find out how a family finds hope after suffering an irreversible hurt.
Based on one of the most notorious criminal cases in South Korea, Hope chronicles the life of Sowon, an eight-year-girl who was brutally beaten and sexually assaulted by a 57-year-old man in a public restroom. She was able to survive the gruesome incident but was injured for life—physically, emotionally, and psychologically. The real-life habitual offender, named Cho Doo Soon, was sentenced to 12 years of imprisonment and was recently released from jail, enraging the public.
6. Whistle Blower (举报者)
Whistle Blower depicts the real-life events of a disgraced Korean researcher whose unethical work is exposed by an anonymous source.
Whistle Blower (Korean: 제보자; RR: Jeboja) is a 2014 South Korean film directed by Yim Soon-rye.
Though fictionalized, the film is based on real-life scientist Hwang Woo-suk, who was at the center of one of the largest investigations of scientific fraud in recent memory. Hwang, then a professor of biotechnology at Seoul National University (SNU), gained international renown in 2004 after claiming that he had successfully carried out experiments cloning human embryonic stem cells. In 2005, an anonymous tip from whistleblower Ryu Young-joon, a former researcher at Hwang’s lab, led to MBC program PD Notebook uncovering Hwang’s ethical violations and fabricated data, which was confirmed by an SNU investigative panel in 2006. Hwang’s research was discredited and in 2009, a South Korean court convicted him of embezzlement and bioethical violations.
7. Han Gong-ju (韩公主)
Han Gong-ju (Korean: 한공주) is a 2013 South Korean film written and directed by Lee Su-jin, starring Chun Woo-hee in the title role. It was inspired by the infamous Miryang gang rape case of 2004.
Hyo-sun Choi is taken to a home in an unfamiliar area to escape an investigation, which is ongoing back in his hometown.
As it traveled the international film festival circuit, Han Gong-ju won several top prizes, including the Golden Star at the 2013 Marrakech International Film Festival, the Tiger Award (given to films that “give young filmmakers a voice” and “push boundaries”) at the 2014 International Film Festival Rotterdam,and the Jury Prize, the Critics’ Prize, and the Audience Award at the 2014 Deauville Asian Film Festival.
The Rotterdam jury praised it as “a skillfully crafted and highly accomplished debut. Deviating from a typical chronological narrative structure, the film lures the spectator to participate in the pleasures of storytelling through an extraordinary and intricate narrative puzzle.”
8. Miracle in Cell No. 7 (七号房的礼物)
This South Korean film tells the story of a mentally-challenged man who is wrongfully imprisoned for murder, who later builds friendship with his inmate. Since he cannot bear to be separated with his daughter, his inmates help him see his daughter by smuggling her into the prison.
Miracle in Cell No. 7 (Korean: 7번방의 선물; RR: 7beonbangui Seonmul; lit. “A Gift from Room 7”) is a 2013 South Korean comedy-drama film starring Ryu Seung-ryong, Kal So-won and Park Shin-hye. The film is about a mentally challenged man wrongfully imprisoned for murder, who builds friendships with the hardened criminals in his cell, who in return help him see his daughter again by smuggling her into the prison.
The movie is based on the real-life story of a man who was tortured and pleaded guilty under duress to the rape and murder of a 9-year-old girl on September 27, 1972 in Chuncheon before being finally exonerated in November 2008.
9. The Chaser (追击者)
This film follows a story of a disgraced ex-detective-turned-pimp who gets involved in a breathless race against time to catch a psychopathic serial killer after his two prostitutes have gone missing.
The Chaser (Korean: 추격자; RR: Chugyeokja) is a 2008 South Korean action thriller film starring Kim Yoon-seok and Ha Jung-woo. It was directed by Na Hong-jin in his directorial debut. Inspired by real-life Korean serial killer Yoo Young-chul, the film was shot on location around Mangwon-dong in the Mapo District, Seoul.
10. Voice of a Murderer (那家伙的声音)
This South Korean crime thriller-drama film is about the true story of the kidnapping of nine-year-old Lee Hyung-ho in 1991.
Voice of a Murderer (Korean: 그놈 목소리; RR: Geunom moksori; lit. “His Voice”) is a 2007 South Korean crime thriller-drama film written and directed by Park Jin-pyo, starring Sol Kyung-gu and Kim Nam-joo. It was the third top-grossing domestic film of 2007, with 3,143,247 tickets sold. The story is a fictionalized account of a real-life kidnapping case in 1991.