41. JSA – Joint Security Area (Park Chan-wook, 2000)

A firefight occurs at the “Bridge of No Return” in the DMZ (De-Militarized Zone), and two North Korean soldiers are killed. The North claims that the incident was a flagrant attack by the South Koreans, while the South claims that one of their soldiers was kidnapped. In order to solve the dispute, the NNSC (Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission) dispatches half-Korean half-Swiss Army Intelligence Bureau officer, Major Sophie E. Jean. With no cooperation from either side, the case appears to be unsolvable. However, Major Jean discovers that the number of bullets fired from the pistols and the number found at the scene differ by one, and she begins to dig deeper into the backgrounds of the soldiers involved. Subsequently she finds out about an encounter previous to the firefight when North Korean soldiers saved a South Korean soldier from a mine. The story unravels to reveal a friendship developing among the soldiers. On the night of the firefight…

42. Failan (Song Hae-seong, 2001)

Kang-jae is a third-rate thug whose only joy in life is playing games at the local arcade. Unlike his buddy who is now the head of a local organization, all he has to show for his life of petty crime is a small video store. Kang-jae is a push-over and gets pushed around by neighborhood punks. One day, he is offered a deal he cannot refuse. To the hope-filled Kang-jae, a letter arrives. It reads: Dear Kang-jae. Thank you for giving me a chance to live in Korea. Everyone here is so nice. But you are the nicest of them all for marrying me. Marriage… Wife… Failan…? Kang-jae had a wife, a wife he had forgotten that he had married. In fact, he had married her for a measly amount of money in exchange for Korean residency. A contractual marriage. A simple letter will make Kang-jae realize the meaning of life, love and fate.

43. Friend (Kwak Gyeong-taek, 2001)

At a time when students had to fasten their collars and crease their slacks till they’re razor sharp, these four friends strutted around in their own custom-fashioned uniforms. They walked the streets with their heads held high, shoulders straight, and chests out, fearing nothing when they were together. Joon-suk, a son of a vigilant gang boss; Dong-su, the only son of an undertaker; Sang-taek, a diligent student; Joong-ho, who never keeps his mouth shut. Those are the gang of friends who share their fantasies about naked woman on the porn magazine and their awe at Bruce Lee’s Kungfu.
Each of their lives takes different turns as they grow up and their paths cross in conflict with each other’s. Joon-suk becomes the leading henchman of his father’s crime ring and Dong-su is serving for Joon-suk’s rival gangs. Sang-taek and Joong-ho find themselves helplessly watching their two best friends wield knives at each other…

44. Take Care of My Cat ( Jeong Jae-eun, 2001)

Set in Incheon, the nearest port from Seoul and a city of migrants, this is a story of five girls who have just turned twenty and who have been best friends since high school. With their graduation, each of them begin to go their own separate ways and render secrets they dont wish to share even with their longtime friends. Hye-joo who dreams of being a successful career woman, is trying to break away from her inferior situation which includes family and friends. Her best friend Ji-yeong is disappointed with Hye-joos drastic change and become closer to Tae-hee, who has always been the most caring of the girls. She is a dreamer, wishing to lie on a floating boat and watch the stars in the sky. One day she packs a bag to search for a way to find her own world, and asks Ji-yeong to come along.

45. My Sassy Girl (Kwak Jae-yong, 2001)

As the film opens we are introduced to Kyun-woo, a kind-hearted but at times naive college student who seems to keep getting into trouble. On his way home one night he encounters a beautiful but completely smashed young woman who causes a scene in the subway, calls him “honey”, and then passes out. With the eyes of the other subway passengers upon him, he has little choice but to take responsibility for her. Thus begins his relationship with the at-times charming, at-times violent damsel who steals his heart.
Much of the film is structured around the bizarre antics of Kyun-woo’s newfound girlfriend. After she passes out yet again, Kyun-woo looks at her blissful face and promises to himself that he will save her, and right whatever it is that troubles her. This proves to be much more of a challenge than he expects.

46. Oasis (Lee Chang-dong, 2002)

Jong-doo, who has three previous convictions, pays a visit to the family of the victim in the hit-and run accident for which he served time and meets Gong-joo, the daughter, who has cerebral palsy. Jong-doo is fascinated by her at first sight and visits her again when he knows she is alone. Trying to reassure and pacify the terrified young woman, he loses control and tries to rape her, stopping only when she faints. But he has left his workshop phone number in her room, and Gong-joo knows where to find him. To Jong-doo’s amazement, she calls him and invites him to visit her again. Over a series of clandestine meetings, the handicapped young woman and the feckless young man come to fall in love with each other. However their love is not one that is understood by anyone else.

47. Chihwaseon (Im Kwon-taek, 2002)

During the 1850s, Kim Byung-moon saves young Seung-up from being beaten by a group of drifters. Seung-up draws him a picture to explain the reason of being beaten. Kim looks carefully at Seung-up’s rough yet extraordinary talent… and years later, Kim encourages Seung-up to pursue the life of a true artist and gives him a pen name, Oh-won. Seung-up meets Mae-hyang, a daughter of a declined Yangban (nobleman) who attracts him deeply. But, they part when she runs away from persecution of the catholic.

48. The Classic (Kwak Jae-yong, 2002)

Ji-hae and Soo-kyoung are friends attending the same university and both have a crush on Sang-min who is in their drama club. The more clamorous and outgoing of the two, Soo-kyoung, asks Ji-hae to do her a favor – write a love letter to Sang-min. Ji-hae pours out her own feelings for him on paper, but sadly in her friend’s name. Touched by the letter, Sang-min is attracted to Soo-kyoung, and Ji-hae, feeling uncomfortable and even guilty, tries to avoid him. And yet by coincidence or by fate she keeps running into him.

49. Sympathy For Mr Vengeance (Park Chan-wook, 2002)

A father sets out to get revenge on a kidnapper who mistakenly kills his precious daughter… A deaf boy resorts to kidnapping to save his one and only sister who is dying of kidney trouble, after his efforts to find a transplant fail tragically. A psychological thriller on the change of human instincts against the backdrop of extreme emotions and situations

50. Bad Guy (Kim Ki-duk, 2002)

In busy downtown Seoul, a thuggish young man notices a fresh-faced college student who sits on a bench. He stares then sits next to her. She looks at him as if he’s vermin, rises and walks to another bench. He sits staring. Her boyfriend arrives, she points to the stranger, the boyfriend shrugs and puts his arm around her to walk away. The stranger starts to leave as well, turns, goes to them, takes her face firmly in his hands and kisses her long and hard. The boyfriend tries unsuccessfully to break them apart, then soldiers beat the stranger. She demands an apology. He is silent. She slaps him and spits on him. They leave. The next day, he sets out to ruin her. How can this end?

51. Memories of Murder (Bong Joon-ho, 2003)

1986, Gyunggi Province. A young woman is found brutally raped and murdered. A couple of months later, several other rapes and murders occur under similar circumstances. In a country that has never known such crimes, the dark whispers about a serial killer grow louder. A special task force is set up in the area. A local detective, Park Doo-man, is joined by a detective from Seoul who requested to be assigned to the case, Seo Tae-yoon. Finding the killer grows more and more difficult, however, driving the detectives to ever greater despair.

52. Silmido (Kang Woo-seok, 2003)

January 1968, 31 members of North Korean Special Unit 124 infiltrated South Korea with the ultimate mission of attacking the Blue House (Presidential Palace in Korea) and assassinating President PARK Chung-hee. When KIM Shin-jo, the only member who was captured alive, was asked “What was the purpose of infiltration?” on a live TV program, he shouted “I came to slit the throat of President PARK Chung-hee!” and made the whole country’s blood run cold.

53. Oldboy (Park Chan-wook, 2003)

One day in 1988, an ordinary man named OH Dae-su, who lives with his wife and adorable daughter, is kidnapped and later wakes up to find himself in a private makeshift prison. Dae-su makes numerous attempts to escape and to commit suicide, but they all end up in failure. All the while Dae-su asks himself what made a man hate him so much enough to imprison him without any reason. While suffering from his debacle, Dae-su becomes shocked when he watches the news and hears that his beloved wife was brutally murdered. At this very moment, Dae-su swears to take revenge on the man who destroyed his happy life.

54. Save the Green Planet (Jang Joon-hwan, 2003)

Byung-gu, an ordinary young man living in Korea, believes that all of the earth’s social ills are the evil work of aliens. That’s why he knows that unless he can meet the prince from Andromeda before the total lunar eclipse, planet earth will be in grave danger. To meet the prince, he must find an extraterrestrial living on earth. So Byung-gu kidnaps the most logical suspect, Kang Man-shik, the president and CEO of Yoo-jae Chemical Company. Thus starts the battle between Byung-gu, who’s trying to uncover a secret alien plot to destroy the earth, and CEO Kang, who thinks Byung-gu is nuts and is trying desperately to escape from him. Only four hours remain until the total lunar eclipse. When the eclipse is over, time will run out for planet earth. Can Byung-gu single-handedly save the planet?

55. Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring (Kim Ki-duk, 2003)

A boy is raised by a Buddhist monk on an isolated floating temple where the years pass like the seasons.

56. A Tale of Two Sisters (Kim Jee-Woon, 2003)

Eun-joo, the stepmother, welcomes two sisters who come back home after recovering their health, but Su-mi, the elder sister, intentionally avoids her and Su-yeon, the younger sister, shows a smack of fear for her stepmother. On their first night, Su-yeon sneaks in Su-mi’s room confessing there is someone in her room and Su-mi sees a ghost of her late mother who hung herself in Su-yeon’s closet. Strange things begin to happen since then; a ghost haunts the house and stepmother’s birds are poisoned to death. Assuming Su-yeon is behind the inauspicious incidents, the stepmother locks her in the closet, and when Su-mi learns about the cruel punishment, conflict between the stepmother and two sisters gets bitter than ever.

57. 3-Iron (Kim Ki-duk, 2004)

Tae-suk drifts around on his motorcycle to find empty houses to stay in. He repeatedly lives like this until one day he sneaks into a rich home and meets a married woman named Sun-hwa, who has been suffering under the torment of her abusive husband. He witnesses her husband trying to rape her and swing golf balls at him and escape from the house with Sun-hwa.

58. Fighter in the Wind (Yang Yoon-ho, 2004)

One of the greatest fighters in history and a hero respected by both the worldwide media and other fighters, Oyama Matsutatsu conquers the world with his bare hands and feet by overcoming discrimination and beating the odds. His real name was Choi Bae-dal and tells the story of a young man realizing his powerful dreams of becoming the best in the world.

59. Taegukgi: The Brotherhood of War (Kang Je-gyu, 2004)

Jin-tae shines shoes hoping to save money to send his younger brother, Jin-seok to university. Their mother runs a noodle shop wishing the best for her two sons even though things have been tough since her husband has passed away. Sending Jin-seok to university has become the shining light in their everyday. With the start of the Korean War (25th June 1950), Jin-seok is unwillingly conscripted into the war, Jin-tae joins the war to save his brother and send him back to his mother. Without money or influence, the only hope to save his brother is for Jin-tae to enlist in suicidal missions in order to earn the Medal of Honour.

60. A Moment to Remember (John H. Lee, 2004)

A career woman Soo-jin who has everything and was born with a silver spoon in her mouth gets dumped by her already-married boyfriend. She tries to get over him and forget. One day she bumps into a poor carpenter, Cheol-soo whose only goal in life is to become an architect, and she becomes attracted to him. They finally fall in love and get happily married. Now that she thinks she found the right one, she has to face the undeniable fact that she has a disease which is erasing her memories…

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My name is Panos Kotzathanasis and I am Greek. Being a fan of Asian cinema and especially of Chinese kung fu and Japanese samurai movies since I was a little kid, I cultivated that love during my adolescence, to extend to the whole of SE Asia. Starting from my own blog in Greek, I then moved on to write for some of the major publications in Greece, and in a number of websites dealing with (Asian) cinema, such as Taste of Cinema, Hancinema, EasternKicks, Chinese Policy Institute, and of course, Asian Movie Pulse. in which I still continue to contribute. In the beginning of 2017, I launched my own website, Asian Film Vault, which I merged in 2018 with Asian Movie Pulse, creating the most complete website about the Asian movie industry, as it deals with almost every country from East and South Asia, and definitely all genres. You can follow me on Facebook and Twitter.